The wonders of vitamin D continue to amaze me as study after study links low vitamin D levels to poor health and vitamin D supplementation and optimal vitamin D levels to good health. This holds true in children and teens as well.

In two studies recently presented at The Endocrine Society’s Annual Meeting, vitamin D again proved its importance to health during youth. In one study, researchers found that vitamin D deficiency was linked to the early development of puberty in girls, suggesting that vitamin D supplementation may help to delay early puberty in these children.

Among 110 girls between the ages of 7 and 10, 35 had reached puberty early (before the age of 8). Of those girls, 44 percent had severe vitamin D deficiency compared to only 21 percent of the girls who had reached puberty at a normal age.  “Our results suggest that vitamin D may inhibit early pubertal onset and/or the rapid progression of puberty,” stated Sim Sum Kim, MD, PhD, lead researcher.

In the second study, 54 out of 86 studied children 10 to 18 years were overweight or obese. The researchers found that the higher the obesity, the higher the level of leptin and the lower the levels of adiponectin and vitamin D. Obese youth also had higher levels of allergy and inflammation markers that the researchers concluded, “seemed to depend on the vitamin D deficiency seen in the more obese patients, leading us to conclude that the increased risk for allergy in obesity may be mediated by vitamin D to some degree.”

These results are not surprising, given the vast number of conditions linked to vitamin D deficiency. It is my hope that doctors begin to test vitamin D levels at every age and stage of health to help make sure people are optimizing their vitamin D intake. Our health—and our children’s health—depends on it.