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Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital found that children are less likely to develop respiratory infections in the winter if they have higher levels of vitamin D. This study may be essential to individuals who are deficient in the nutrient, as determined by a lab test.
Recent scientific studies have linked vitamin D to immune system functions. However, research has been mixed. In order to investigate further, a team of researchers conducted an experiment among schoolchildren in Mongolia, a northern country that gets little sunlight in the winter.
All study participants were deficient in vitamin D at the beginning of the trial. While one group drank plain milk, the other consumed milk fortified with vitamin D.
"Our randomized controlled trial shows that vitamin D has important effects on infection risk," said researcher Carlos Camargo, M.D. "In almost 250 children with low blood levels of vitamin D during winter, we found that taking a daily vitamin D supplement cut in half the risk of a respiratory infection."
Further studies are needed to determine the initial threshold at which children would not benefit from vitamin D supplementation.
In the meantime, parents who are wondering whether their kids are consuming enough of the nutrient can send for a lab test to find out.
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