The American Academy of Pediatrics today recommended a doubling of the amount of vitamin D children receive. The doctors, meeting this week in Boston, said infants, children and teenagers should get 400 international units of vitamin D each day, up from 200 IU that had been prescribed in the past.
The recommendation probably means that kids who don't already take a daily vitamin supplement will have to start. "Supplementation is important because most children will not get enough vitamin D through diet alone," said Dr. Frank Greer, chairman of the AAP Committee on Nutrition.
The new recommendation is aimed at preventing the bone-softening disease rickets in children. Adequate vitamin D intake, however, may also help prevent the future development of osteoporosis and other diseases. Research in adults shows vitamin D plays a key role in preventing infections, autoimmune diseases, cancer and diabetes.
The guidelines emphasize that infants who are breast-fed should begin receiving vitamin D supplements in the first few days of life because many women do not get enough vitamin D and their breast milk may be deficient. Non-breast-fed babies and older children who do not drink one quart per day of vitamin D fortified milk should also receive a supplement.
The full report on the new vitamin D guidelines is available from the AAP.
-- Shari Roan
Photo credit: Jessica Tefft / AP