Monday, October 13, 2008

AAP says More Vitamin D for Babies and Children: YES!!

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a new recommendation for vitamin D for children; increasing it to 400 IU per day, from the previous 200 IU. The details are in "Prevention of Rickets and Vitamin D Deficiency in Infants, Children, and Adolescents," at which recommends all children receive 400 IU a day of vitamin D, beginning in the first few days of life.

The recommendations include breastfed and non breastfed infants, older children and even some guidance for pregnant women:

  • Breastfed and partially breastfed infants should be supplemented with 400 IU a day of vitamin D beginning in the first few days of life.

  • All non-breastfed infants, as well as older children, who are consuming less than one quart per day of vitamin D-fortified formula or milk, should receive a vitamin D supplement of 400 IU a day.

  • Adolescents who do not obtain 400 IU of vitamin D per day through foods should receive a supplement containing that amount.

  • Children with increased risk of vitamin D deficiency, such as those taking certain medications, may need higher doses of vitamin D.

"We are doubling the recommended amount of vitamin D children need each day because evidence has shown this could have life-long health benefits," said Frank Greer, MD, FAAP, chair of the AAP Committee on Nutrition and co-author of the report. “Supplementation is important because most children will not get enough vitamin D through diet alone.”

My Take on Vitamin D:

There has been a buzz about Vitamin D among health professionals in the last few years. Research implies there is a serious epidemic of vitamin D deficiency--and according to, (a nonprofit dedicated to the mission of ending worldwide vitamin D deficiency) is implicated as a major factor in the pathology of at least 17 varieties of cancer as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, birth defects, periodontal disease, and more.

The best source of vitamin D is sunshine--for adults and older children, that is. To give you an idea, 20-30 minutes of summer sun exposure causes your skin to produce 20,000 IU of vitamin D--comparatively, the most reliable food source--milk, contains 100 IU per cup. In our busy lives, many people hardly see the sun--and when they do, they are slathered with sunscreen, hats and shirts. Don't get my wrong--I've been just as afraid of skin cancer as the rest of us. But there's a big difference in spending hours in the sun unprotected and spending a few minutes.

In the past year, I've been foregoing sunscreen on my arms during my walks, 2-3 times per week. I live in a very sunny place--over 300 sun-filled days a year--and when I had my Vitamin D tested earlier this year, it was normal--but not in the super high range. People who live in higher latitudes, those who are overweight and those with dark skin need much more amount of time without sunscreen to yield the same amount of vitamin D. Those north of Atlanta, don't see much UV light in the winter, so even if they were to brave the elements bare-armed, their vitamin D production is basically zip.

The current RDI of 400 IU is seriously low, according to researchers, who recommend up to 5,000 IU for those who never see the sun. Those who are clinically deficient, as shown by blood testing, might be given a prescription for even more.

The AAP recommendation is a strong step in the right direction, but now we need new recommendations on the needs of adults. Until then, take your work break outside if it's sunny--especially if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant! And if you have any health problems and don't see much sun, are dark skinned or overweight, ask your Dr. to test your Vitamin D3 levels.

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