Teenagers who consume less than the recommended amount of vitamin D have lower lung function than those with adequate levels of this nutrient, according to a study presented to the American Thoracic Society's International Conference in May 2006.
As several recent reports have suggested a link between vitamin D and lung function, a team at the Harvard University of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, embarked on a study of 2,112 adolescents aged 16-19, from twelve cities across the USA and Canada.
Teenagers were chosen because this age group should have optimum lung function, but also because they are known for poor eating habits and because their rapid physical growth makes them more vulnerable to the effects of dietary deficiency.
The researchers found that the average daily intake of vitamin D was 289 international units, yet 35% of the participants consumed less than the recommended intake of at least 200 IU. Teenagers with an average daily vitamin D intake of less than 157 IU performed
significantly worse in lung function tests than those taking the recommended amount.
These findings suggest that vitamin D, which is found in such foods as egg yolks, salt-water fish, liver and fortified dairy products, and is most
frequently associated with bone growth, is also an essential nutrient for lung function and that adolescents should therefore be encouraged to ensure that they obtain a sufficient quantity of the vitamin, especially if they have a condition such as asthma.
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First Published in august 2006
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