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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Michigan: Low Levels of Vitamin D in Elementary School Could Spell Trouble in Adolescence

Vitamin D deficiency in middle childhood could result in aggressive behavior as well as anxious and depressive moods during adolescence, according to a new University of Michigan study of school children in Bogotá, Colombia.

Children with blood vitamin D levels suggestive of deficiency were almost twice as likely to develop externalizing behavior problems — aggressive and rule breaking behaviors — as reported by their parents, compared with children who had higher levels of the vitamin.

Also, low levels of the protein that transports vitamin D in blood were related to more self-reported aggressive behavior and anxious/depressed symptoms. The associations were independent of child, parental and household characteristics.

“Children who have vitamin D deficiency during their elementary school years appear to have higher scores on tests that measure behavior problems when they reach adolescence,” said Dr. Eduardo Villamor, professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and senior author of the study appearing in the Journal of Nutrition

Dr. Villamor said vitamin D deficiency has been associated with other mental health problems in adulthood, including depression and schizophrenia, and some studies have focused on the effect of vitamin D status during pregnancy and childhood. However, few studies have extended into adolescence, the stage when behavior problems may first appear and become serious conditions.

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