The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced a doubling of the amount of vitamin D it recommends for infants, children and adolescents today.
All children are now advised to receive 400 international units (IU) a day of vitamin D, beginning in the first few days of life. The previous recommendation, issued in 2003, called for 200 IU per day beginning in the first two months of life.
Infants who are exclusively breastfed - as well as older children who don't drink two to four cups of vitamin D-fortified formula or milk - should receive a vitamin D supplement of 400 IU a day. Breastfed infants can take vitamin D drops that provide 400 IU of this important nutrient while older children can take supplements such as chewable multivitamins.
The recommendation is based on a review of new clinical trials on vitamin D and the historical precedence of safely giving 400 IU per day to the children, according to the AAP. Studies show that higher doses of vitamin D will not only prevent the bone-softening disease called rickets, but will also treat it.
Since 2004, Health Canada has recommended daily supplementation of 400 IU vitamin D beginning at birth and continuing until one year of age.
After one year of age, children are advised to consume the current "official" recommended intake of 200 IU per day. One cup (250 ml) of milk provides 100 IU of vitamin D. (Vitamin D experts consider the current recommendations too low to offer protection from certain diseases. Evidence suggests that a higher intake of vitamin D may help prevent infections, autoimmune diseases, certain cancers and type 1 diabetes.)
Based on cancer research in June 2007, the Canadian Cancer Society recommended that adults take 1000 IU of vitamin D per day in the fall and winter. Older adults, people with dark skin, those who don't go outdoors often, and those who wear clothing that covers most of their skin should take the supplement all year round.
Most Canadians - both young and old - get too little vitamin D from sun exposure, especially during the winter months.
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