According to a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, low levels of vitamin D increase the risk of anemia in children. The study was conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and is the first of its kind that explores in detail the relationship between the two conditions.
The researchers highlighted the fact that the study results do not prove a cause-effect relationship, but rather a proof of the fact that there is a complex connection between vitamin D and hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells with a role in oxygen transport; a decrease in the amount of hemoglobin leads to anemia. It seems that there are several mechanisms by which vitamin D may contribute to anemia. On the one hand, this vitamin influences hematopoiesis in bone marrow ( red blood cell production ) and on the other hand, vitamin D is involved in inflammation and immunity.
To analyze the connection between anemia and vitamin D, the researchers conducted a study that included more than 10,000 children. They searched for evidence of anemia and low blood levels of vitamin D. Researchers have found that vitamin D levels were much lower in patients who had anemia. Researchers found that children who had vitamin D levels below 30ng/ml had a double risk of anemia than children who had normal vitamin D levels.
There seems to be a difference between ethnic groups in terms of risk of anemia related to vitamin D. Black children have higher rates of anemia and vitamin D levels much lower than white children, but the risk of anemia occurs only when the vitamin decreases far below than the level found in white children. This racial difference on the level of vitamin D and anemia indicates that the current therapeutic targets for preventing and treating these conditions require a new approach. Lead investigator Meredith Atkinson , MD, MHS, a pediatric kidney specialist at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, said that this clear racial difference pointed out in the study should serve as a reminder for the fact that what we consider a pathological level in some it may be perfectly normal in others.
Children who have chronic anemia and vitamin D deficiency have more health problems such as impaired growth , skeletal deformities , fractures, premature osteoporosis and others. Senior study investigator Jeffrey Fadrowski, M.D., M.H.S., a pediatric kidney specialist at Johns Hopkins, said: “If our findings are confirmed through further research, low vitamin D levels may turn out to be a readily modifiable risk factor for anemia that we can easily tackle with supplements.”