Vitamin D is important for our bone health. Maintaining adequate vitamin D levels in our blood may be beneficial for our heart-health. Our bodies make vitamin D when a particular range of ultraviolet rays in the sunlight touches our skin. We can also get vitamin D from foods and supplements.
Vitamin D deficiency (low levels of vitamin D) is common during winter among people living in the northern parts of the U.S., in places such as Pittsburgh. The reason is because there isn’t much vitamin D-producing sunlight during winter. The risk of vitamin D deficiency is greater among people with dark skin color because they have higher levels of melanin pigment in their skin. Melanin pigment is a natural sunscreen and blocks the vitamin D-producing sunlight. Therefore, a person with a darker skin color will need more sunlight exposure to make the same amount of vitamin D as a person with lighter skin color. Obese individuals also have a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency as vitamin D gets trapped in their body fat.
Dr. Kumaravel Rajakumar, M.D., associate professor of Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, is conducting a NIH-funded research study to see if increasing the vitamin D levels of vitamin D-deficient children with obesity can improve their heart-health. Healthy 10- to 18-yr-old children who are overweight are potentially eligible for participation. Eligible participants found to have low vitamin D levels in a screening blood test can join the study. Compensation and parking will be provided.
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