Monday, October 13, 2008

Vitamin D Deficiency

The Associated Press revealed Oct. 12 that the American Academy of Pediatrics is now recommending double the dose of vitamin D for children since there is evidence it might reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease in addition to preventing bone disorders like rickets. Vitamin D is added to milk and formula, but most children and teenagers do not drink enough milk to get the newly recommended dosage of 400 IU a day (up from 200 IU a day). Also breastfed babies are likely to need a supplement.

In addition to milk, other sources of Vitamin D are the sun, fortified cereals, and oily fish such as tuna, sardines, and mackerel. To get adequate Vitamin D from the UV rays of the sun requires 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure without sunscreen a few times weekly. That poses a problem for those living in a northern climate with less sun and for those with darker skin making absorption more difficult.

For more detailed information about Vitamin D, see the National Institutes of Health Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin D (not yet revised with the new recommendation). Also look for changes in the recommended dosage for adults which now stands at 200 IU through age 50, 400 IU for ages 51-70, and 600 IU for ages 71+.