New research shows that vitamin D helps in improving the overall health of malnourished children.
The study was conducted by the University of the Punjab Pakistan and the Queen Mary University of London and shows that a high dose of vitamin D supplements helps malnourished kids to put on weight and also learn languages more easily.
Vitamin D, known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ has beneficial effects is well known for its beneficial effects on bone and muscle health, Queen Mary researchers last year did a study which proved that it could also protect against colds and flu.
Earlier studies have also shown that a normal intake of vitamin D can cut down on your risk of early death significantly in people who have cardiovascular disease. The research showed that the risk can be lowered by 30%.
New research by them has revealed even more benefits.
Lead author Javeria Saleem said, “High-dose vitamin D significantly boosted weight gain in malnourished children. This could be a game-changer in the management of severe acute malnutrition, which affects 20 million children worldwide.”
Senior author Adrian Martineau added, “This is the first clinical trial in humans to show that vitamin D can affect brain development, lending weight to the idea that vitamin D has important effects on the central nervous system.
“Further trials in other settings are now needed to see whether our findings can be reproduced elsewhere. We are also planning a larger trial in Pakistan to investigate whether high-dose vitamin D could reduce mortality in children with severe malnutrition.”
For the study, 185 severely malnourished kids between the ages of 6-58 months were treated with an eight-week course of high energy food sachets and were also given additional high-dose vitamin D (two doses of 200,000 international units / 5 milligrams, given by mouth) or placebo randomly.
Eight weeks later, there were marked changes in weight (on average gaining an extra 0.26 kg compared to the control group). As a result, there was also reduction in delayed motor development and delayed language development.
Senior author Rubeena Zakar added, “Our findings could be a great help to the Health Ministry of Pakistan in dealing with the issue of malnutrition.”
The study appears in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.