According to findings published in the journal Pediatrics, Cornell researchers used a new definition of vitamin D deficiency whereby the minimum acceptable serum vitamin D level has been increased from 11 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) to at least 20 ng/mL.
The raised level means that an alarming one in seven teens, and 50 per cent of African-American teens are vitamin D deficient. Moreover. Girls and overweight teens had twice the risk of deficiency compared with boys and their normal-weight counterparts, respectively.
"These are alarming findings,” said Dr. Sandy Saintonge. “We need to do a better job of educating the public on the importance of vitamin D, and the best ways to get it.
“To meet minimum nutritional requirements teens would need to consume at least four glasses of fortified milk daily or its dietary equivalent. Other foods rich in vitamin D include salmon, tuna, eggs and fortified cereals. A vitamin supplement containing 400 IU of vitamin D is another alternative."
"We should also consider a national fortification strategy, perhaps including routine supplementation and monitoring of serum levels, but more research is needed to determine optimal vitamin D levels,” added Dr Saintonge.