The American Academy of Pediatrics recently met and revised their guidelines for the recommended dosage of Vitamin D per day for infants and children. The AAP committee on nutrition now recommends 400 IU of Vitamin D each day for infants, children and teens. This is double the previous amount suggested.
Most specialists who contributed to the committee policy statement believe that over half the children do not get an adequate supply of Vitamin D each day. This plays an essential role in helping calcium be absorbed and in building bones. It is also believed to strengthen the immune system and perhaps help reduce risks for diabetes and cancer.
Infants must obtain this amount either through breast milk or formula. Most researchers estimate that the vitamin intake of a nursing mother is not sufficient enough to pass on to their infants. For this reason, the panel from the AAP has recommended that breast fed infants should receive a Vitamin D supplement daily, soon after birth. Formula fed infants may not need the same amount or any extra supplement. Many formulas have been fortified with extra Vitamin D. Parents can look at the individual formula they choose, then determine if the infant is taking a volume that ensures enough consumption to meet the 400 IU recommended per day.
Children greater than twelve months will likely need only partial supplementation to reach the 400 IU daily requirement. They get this by drinking sixteen ounces of milk per day. Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna fish and mackerel have significant amounts of Vitamin D per serving…but most children don’t eat these foods! And as some grandparents may remember, a teaspoon of cod liver oil contains substantial Vitamin D. This was an old-time winter remedy so that children would not get rickets. There are small, but relatively unsubstantial quantities of Vitamin D in other dairy products and cereals. Most multivitamins contain 400 IU of Vitamin D and would provide sufficient supplementation.
In sunny climates, such as Southern California, it is possible the Vitamin D requirements could be met through the skin’s absorption of UVB rays. However, now as a population we understand the ill effects of UV radiation as a carcinogen. It is unknown what amount of sun exposure could be healthful versus harmful. For this reason research suggests supplementation as a safer mode to ensure adequate Vitamin D intake.. Most parents would also benefit from extra Vitamin D and should discuss potential supplementation with their doctors.