Vitamin D-rich Diet May Decrease Cholesterol in Kids

Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland say there is a link between higher serum vitamin D levels and lower plasma cholesterol levels in primary school children. Vitamin D is essential for bone metabolism and its low serum levels increase the risk of rickets, osteomalacia, and osteopenia. A vitamin D rich diet may also minimize other risk factors associated with cardiovascular diseases.

Study researchers analyzed data from nearly 500 children ages six through eight. Children with vitamin D level of more than 80 nanomoles per litre (nmol/l) had lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, levels than those whose vitamin D levels were below 50 nmol/l—the generally accepted threshold for vitamin D sufficiency.

The new findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, support the importance of following recommendations for vitamin D intake, which vary from country to country. How much vitamin D a person needs is dependent on other lifestyle factors, too.

Healthy diet, physical activity, and time outdoors lead to the production of vitamin D and can all be linked to higher serum vitamin D levels and lower plasma lipid levels, study authors said.

The sun provides vitamin D, but in northern latitudes, the exposure to sunlight alone is inadequate to maintain sufficient serum levels, especially during the winter. Therefore, study authors say the best source of vitamin D is from fortified dietary sources, such as dairy products and spreads, as well as fish. Vitamin D supplements are also recommended for the general population in several countries, though the recommendations vary greatly. Daily supplementation between 5-50 ug/d, or 200-2000 IU/d, is generally recommended.