Kids Love Dr. Barton

Vitamin D

by Dr. Douglas Barton, M.D., Pediatrician 10/22/2008



            The AAP in conjunction with the National Institutes of Medicine last week recommended doubling the daily recommended dose of vitamin D from 200 IU (International units) to 400 IU for children from birth to 18 years old.  The recommendation is based on research that shows that most Americans do not get enough vitamin D.  There have also been a number of studies that suggest that vitamin D may play a role in preventing certain inflammatory and auto-immune disorders such as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and possibly even leukemia.
            Vitamin D primarily regulates calcium in the body.  If you have enough vitamin D, your body pulls calcium out of the food you eat.  If there is not enough vitamin D, your body pulls the calcium out of your bones potentially creating weak, brittle and painful bones, a condition known as rickets.
            There are essentially three ways to obtain vitamin D.  The first is sunshine.  If you’re a blond haired, blue eyed kid in San Diego, then running around in your bathing suit for 10-15 minutes around noon three or four days a week will probably give you enough.  If you live further north or have darker skin, sunshine is much less reliable as a source of vitamin D.  Thus you have to get it from your food.  There is enough vitamin D in 32 ounces of milk or formula to meet the new requirement.  There are also significant amounts of vitamin D in cod liver oil, salmon, tuna and cod.  There are also small amounts in eggs.  Finally, if fish and milk are not a part of your diet regularly, all vitamins available for children have 400 IU per dose.
            Breast fed children are an interesting question.  The AAP recommends supplementing all breastfed infants with a vitamin containing 400 IU of vitamin D as there is not enough in breast milk to maintain adequate levels in the infant. Several websites I’ve perused lately say that it is not necessary.  I think that, in light of recent data demonstrating the importance of good vitamin levels and the lack of harm, that breast fed infants should get a vitamin supplement.
            Bottom line, breast fed infants should get a supplement.  Formula fed infants and older children should get three to four cups of formula or milk daily.  Everyone should get some outside time as regularly as possible while avoiding sunburns and the risk for skin cancer.  Turns out, outside time is good for the heart, the soul and now, for the bones!

   
 

 

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