Minority teens may need extra D

Minority teens may need extra D

New research suggests that the extra dose physicians may recommend for minority teens might still not be enough.

Minority teens may need an extra dose of vitamin D, especially if they’re living in the Northeast in the dreary depths of grey winter, according to a new study.

The pigmentation in darker skin reduces the skin’s production of the vitamin, so doctors often recommend an added dose of D to help. But recent research has revealed that that barely moves the needle for some people at highest risk, such as black teens, reports npr.org.

Vitamin D is essential for youth in particular, Muna Sunni, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital in Minneapolis, told npr.org. "Vitamin D's role is to help our body suck in as much calcium as it can, and young people need that calcium for bone growth until about age 30. Once they're 30, whatever bone strength they have, that's what they're stuck with.” If the body's vitamin D levels are too low to grab the calcium it needs for cell regulation from food, she said, that calcium is leached from the bones. Vitamin D may be part of a powerful strategy to reduce chronic inflammation and the related risk of many diseases, including cancer, according to recent research from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

The new research on minority teens, published in The Journal of Pediatrics, found that a weekly mega-dose of the vitamin for just two months may bring teenagers with dangerously low D back into the safe zone.

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