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Vitamin D May Be Associated with Reduced Cholesterol in Children

Concerned about the future of your child’s heart health? A recent study may have found an association between higher vitamin D levels and lower non-HDL cholesterol (total cholesterol minus HDL [“good”] cholesterol) in young children. According to some research, higher non-HDL cholesterol is a better predictor in childhood of adult dyslipidemia—an imbalance of fats in the blood that can increase the risk for cardiovascular disease—than LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Published in PLOS ONE, the study examined blood samples taken during doctor’s visits from 1,961 healthy children ages one to five. The children in the study consumed an average of 452 ml (just under 2 cups ) of cow’s milk per day, and 56% of them regularly took a vitamin D supplement. After adjusting for age, sex, milk intake, BMI, and other characteristics, researchers found:

  • An inverse relationship between vitamin D and non-HDL cholesterol—each 10 nmol/l increase of vitamin D in the blood was associated with a 0.89 mg/dl decrease in non-HDL cholesterol.
  • However, it’s important to note that the study did not adjust for inflammation in the participants, which may have skewed the results. Inflammation can cause vitamin D levels to decline, which means it’s possible that the high non-HDL cholesterol levels were related more to inflammation than to low vitamin D levels. Most controlled clinical trials have failed to show that vitamin D has an effect on cholesterol. 

Vitamin D levels have been linked to childhood bone health, diabetes risk, and ear health. So, although more clinical research is needed to directly link vitamin D with lower non-HDL cholesterol, this study may be one more reason to ensure your child gets adequate amounts of vitamin D. If you have a picky eater, vitamin D-fortified cereal, cheese, milk, and yogurt are just a few of the kid-friendly foods that contain vitamin D, in addition to a multivitamin that may include vitamin D. As always, consult your pediatrician before starting your child on a supplement regimen.

Source: PLOS ONE

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