Double recommended dose of vitamin D for kids, says American Academy of Pediatrics

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

The new miracle vitamin is D.  I have read study after study lately touting the positive effects (decrease cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, etc.)  of an adequate amount.  The problem is that no one knows how much is adequate.  Most agree that current recommendations are too low.  You can get it from the sun, but at the increased risk of skin cancer.  It is very difficult to get enough in your diet, even with added supplementation in food, such as milk.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAD) agrees that kids need more and has changed its daily recommendations from 200 IU to 400 IU.  Why do they think more is needed?

One reason is Rickets still exists in the U.S.  The disease causes bone softening and resultant deformities.  The culprit is lack of Vitamin D.   Another reason is that getting enough vitamin D early on may increase the benefits of the positive results found in adults.

The AAP especially stresses vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy and in breastfed babies.

They recommend the following (which are direct quotes).

  • 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 drinking 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 get 400 IU of vitamin D per day through foods should take 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

I expect increased recommendations in adults soon.

Are you going to change, or do you think this is just another hype?

You can read more with more links at my past blog on vitamin d and the sun.

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7 Responses to “Double recommended dose of vitamin D for kids, says American Academy of Pediatrics”

  1. lhubbard Says:

    These recommendations leave me going, “hmmm …” So even if a kid gets, say 200 IU of vitamin D through milk, he or she should still take 400 IU–just like those who don’t get any vitamin D? Also, breastfeeding infants should be supplemented? Is there some natural way infants used to get vitamin D but aren’t now? If not, why do they need something that’s, well, not normal, for lack of a better way to put it?

    Interesting … I would like to have been a fly on the wall in the AAP’s discussions about this. It sounds like they’re doing the best they can with the information have now. But there’s still so much unknown.

    I wonder how long the unknown will go on.

    Thank you for the explanation and update.

    Leigh Ann Hubbard
    Managing Editor
    James Hubbard’s My Family Doctor

  2. James Hubbard Says:

    Leigh Ann:

    You can read the full report at http://aap.org/new/VitaminDreport.pdf

    You are right that the ideal dose is not known. We are talking minimums.

    One of the problems is that people don’t get out in the sun like in the past, and that’s where we used to get our vitamin D. Sunlight reacts with chemicals in the skin to make vitamin D. At present we are warned against sun damage causing skin cancer and it is recommended that babies under 6 months get no direct sunlight. Breast milk has some, but not enough to prevent Rickets. 400 IU per day is needed to prevent Rickets. I think they are assuming that some people may not get it in other ways and that, even if you do, the extra 400 IU should not harm you. It’s the minimum. The maximum but some think 20,000 total IU’s won’t harm you. Please don’t try that by supplement.

    Thanks

  3. cathy Says:

    Oh great info – especially with the added comments! I’ve been following with interest all of the news surrounding vit D. It’s amazing how important this vitamin is. It really does seem to be a vitamin necessary for whole body health, not just for prevention of rickets. I’ll certainly be checking the kids multivitamins and talking to their pediatricians about vitamin D now – not to mention making sure that I’m getting enough.

  4. James Hubbard Says:

    thanks Cathy,
    I am going to increase my amount also.

  5. Dr. J Says:

    It seems to me that giving children (and adults also for that matter), opportunities to play outside, would take care of several important health variables all at the same time. I understand the differences today from when I was a kid, but I still feel this is a better way to go if at all possible.

  6. James Hubbard Says:

    Good point, Dr. J. I agree. It’s those doggone Dermatologists that make a fuss.

    I think children should play outside, in a safe environment, for an hour or more every pretty day. Get exercise, vitamin D, and just enjoy the outdoors.

    A good walk outside for every adult would do a world of good also.

    Better yet, go outside as a family.

    Thanks

  7. James Hubbard’s My Family Doctor Blog » Blog Archive » Doctors should encourage breastfeeding. Best for mother, baby. All groups agree. Says:

    [...] By the way, don’t forget their vitamin D. [...]

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