If you’re like most people who keep an eye on the health news you’ve noticed a lot of talk in recent months about vitamin D. It used to be assumed that if you drank milk and got regular exposure to sunlight you were getting enough of this important vitamin. That assumption now seems to be wrong. In fact, a recent study conducted by researchers at the Joslin Diabetes Center found that three-quarters of children with type 1 have insufficient levels of vitamin D.

The findings were even more alarming for teens. Eighty-five percent of teens in the study were found to be deficient in vitamin D, which is an essential nutrient that helps in the absorption of calcium. Working together, vitamin D and calcium build strong bones.

What does this mean for kids with type 1 diabetes? Previous studies have shown that having diabetes alone modestly decreases bone density with age and increases risk fracture by middle age. If a child with diabetes is significantly deficient in vitamin D by the time he is a young adult, it could potentially affect bone health later in life. But, adequate amounts of vitamin D now could help prevent brittle bones later in life.

Want to make sure your kids are getting enough vitamin D? You can start by having them drink vitamin D fortified milk, eat cereals fortified with vitamin D and perhaps take a vitamin D supplement. But, always check with your doctor first before you start with any supplementation.

Finally, make this the year you become a student of diabetes. The more you know, the more motivated you will be to practice healthy self-care. A good way to start is to sign up for my weekly newsletter that will introduce you to new topics to help you stay on track. Another avenue for knowledge and support is the type 1 diabetes forum where you can talk with and support others walking the same path.