According to a study of school children in Bogota, Colombia, kids who have a Vitamin D deficiency are nearly twice as likely to develop aggressive behavior when they become teenagers. In addition, if a child has low levels of the protein that transports vitamin D in the blood, they could end up with anxiety and/or depression when they get older.
The Journal of Nutrition study was conducted in part by lead author Eduardo Villamor, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. Co-authors are from the University of La Sabana, Colombia, and the Foundation for Research in Nutrition and Health in Colombia.
“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,” Villamor reported in the study.
In 2006, the study authors recruited 3,202 kids aged five-12 years and took blood samples from each of them. The researchers also gathered data about the children, including their daily habits, maternal education level, weight, height and socioeconomic status.
“After about six years, when the children were 11-18 years old, the investigators conducted in-person, follow-up interviews in a random group of one-third of the participants, assessing the children’s behavior through questionnaires that they administered to the children themselves and their parents,” an article Futurity said. “The vitamin D analyses included 273 of those participants.”
According to Psychology Today, about one billion people worldwide have vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency, a key nutrient required “at every level for the body to function.” Sources of vitamin D include sunlight, though the use of sunscreen — a vitally important prohibitive measure for potential sun damage — can inhibit its impact, and food sources including tuna, eggs, fortified juices and cereals. Still, a supplement may be recommended by pediatricians if your child is found to have a vitamin D deficiency.
A number of studies have confirmed the link between a lack of vitamin D and mental illness, including one out of the Netherlands that revealed individuals over the age of 65 who had low levels of vitamin D displayed symptoms of depression. Vitamin D has also been linked to other forms of mental illness, including schizophrenia.
Psychology Today said, “Groups who are at risk for vitamin D deficiency – the elderly, adolescents, obese individuals, and those with chronic illnesses (e.g. diabetes) – are the same groups that are also reportedly at risk for depression.”