Thursday, October 16, 2008

new recommendations for vitamin D for kids

the american academy of pediatrics is recommending that children receive twice the previously recommended amount of vitamin D, 400 units (10 micrograms) per day. this includes infants who are breastfed, even if they get some formula (here is more on breastmilk and vitamin D), and teenagers who do not drink four cups of milk per day. vitamin D is
...important in preventing bone loss and fractures. Without it, our bodies can't properly absorb and utilize the calcium we take in. Vitamin D also helps maintain normal blood levels of phosphorus, another bone-building mineral. Vitamin D would be essential if it did nothing else, but researchers have discovered that it's active in many tissues besides bone and may play a role in warding off a range of diseases, including cancer, hypertension, and diabetes. (From "Vitamin D Recommendations" by the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide)

there are many ways to get vitamin D - sun exposure, 10-15 minutes per day without sunscreen, is enough for most people, but people with dark skin and those in less sunny climates need more. as far as diet, milk is a great source, but a child needs four glasses a day to meet the new recommendation. cheese, by extension, is also a good source but not exactly low in fat and sodium. many cereals are fortified with vitamin D, as are some brands of margarine, yogurt and orange juice. oily fish (including tuna, mackerel and sardines), beef liver and egg yolks are also rich in vitamin D. finally, you don't need to worry much about excessive consumption of vitamin D - the tolerable upper intake level is 1000 units (25 mcg) for infants 0-12 months and 2000 units (50 mcg) for children and adults. for more information, see the news release from the american academy of pediatrics and this fact sheet from the national institutes of health.

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