It’s well known that vitamin D is a necessary, powerful vitamin. In recent years, a great deal of research is being done to define the role of vitamin D, insulin resistance and diabetes. It appears that low levels of vitamin D make macrophages (immune cells that attack invaders) more active. When fat cells get too large, they die and macrophages move in to clean up the dead tissue. This increases inflammation, which is often more severe in overweight people. More macrophages at work produce chemicals called cytokines, which can impair insulin action in the liver and muscle.

The Academy of Pediatrics’ Healthy Children (healthychildren.org) have recommendations about the amount of vitamin D to be taken daily. It’s recommended that all infants, children and adolescents take 400 IU daily. Low levels of vitamin D are associated with rickets, which is a condition of weakened deformed bones. New information now suggests that vitamin D has a role in immunity and reduces the risk for diseases such as cancer and diabetes.

Sally Robinson is a clinical professor of pediatrics at UTMB Children’s Hospital. This column isn’t intended to replace the advice of your child’s physician.

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