News

Many school children may have insufficient micronutrient intakes

August 6, 2013

According to a new US study, many elementary school children do not meet recommended intakes for vitamins E and A and have low blood vitamin D concentrations.

The micronutrient intake study assessed the dietary intake levels of all vitamins and essential minerals, as well as the vitamin D body status, for a group of elementary school children in the US (1). 172 children completed a validated food questionnaire and a subset of 71 children completed a vitamin D blood spot test. The results indicated that 70% of children had serum vitamin D levels between 21 and 30 ng/mL, and 13% had levels below 20 ng/mL. These levels are considered insufficient and deficient, respectively. None of the children met the recommended intake levels for vitamin E and only one child met the Adequate Intake (AI) for potassium. Very few of the children met the AI for alpha-linolenic acid. 76% of the children aged 5–8 years and 92% of children aged 9–11 years did not meet the recommended intake levels for calcium, and respectively, only 40% and 61% for magnesium, and 22% and 44% for vitamin A.

Theresearchers commented that while they still needed to collect and analyze more data, these preliminary results raise serious concerns about the nutrient intake of children even in affluent and well-educated communities. The low dietary intakes of calcium and magnesium, together with low vitamin D status, may have detrimental consequences for bone health, both in the short term (failure to mineralize growing bones and achieve peak bone mass) and long term ( osteoporosis). There was a critical need for tools that help parents and health professionals assess the nutritional status of children, in the researchers’ opinion: tools that provide guidance to improve their nutrient intakes, including improved diet and use of dietary supplements.

References

  1. Frei S. Linus Pauling Institute’s Healthy Youth Program. Linus Pauling Institute Research Newsletter Spring/Summer 2012.