In order to lead a healthy life, it is important to consume foods that are nutritionally dense. While it is imperative to ensure intake of foods that are rich in all macro and micro nutrients to avoid deficiencies, there's one nutrient that stands out to be of utmost importance, especially in the early growing years. We're talking about Vitamin D. A recent study, published in the 'Journal of Nutrition', has stressed upon the importance of the intake of this vitamin. As per the study, low levels of vitamin D in middle childhood could spell trouble in adolescence in terms of aggressive behaviour as well as anxious and depressive moods. The study was conducted by the researchers from University of Michigan.
"Children who have vitamin D deficiency during their elementary school years appear to have higher scores on tests that measure behaviour problems when they reach adolescence," said Eduardo Villamor, professor of epidemiology at the U-M School of Public Health and senior author of the study.
A cohort study was conducted by the team of researchers in 2006 where they recruited 3,202 children aged 5-12 years through a random selection from primary public schools. Children's daily habits, maternal education level, weight, and height, as well as the household's food insecurity and socioeconomic status were investigated by the researchers. Apart from this, their blood samples were also collected.
As per the findings of the study, children with blood vitamin D levels suggestive of deficiency were almost twice as likely to develop externalising behaviour problems, aggressive and rule breaking behaviours, as reported by their parents, compared with children who had higher levels of the vitamin. Other than this, low levels of protein that transports vitamin D in the blood were also linked to more self-reported aggressive behaviour and anxious/depressive symptoms.
Villamor said vitamin D deficiency has been associated with other mental health problems in adulthood, including depression and schizophrenia, and some studies have focused on the effect of vitamin D status during pregnancy and childhood. However, few studies have extended into adolescence, the stage when behaviour problems may first appear and become serious conditions.