This week the American Academy of Pediatrics announced that it is now recommending 400 IU of vitamin D daily for infants and children. This is double the previously recommended amount of 200 IU a day.
This change is based on new clinical trials on vitamin D showing that 400 IU of vitamin D will prevent and treat rickets. The AAP is recommending more vitamin D to prevent other diseases, such as cancer, hearth disease, and diabetes, though there is no conclusive evidence proving that higher levels of vitamin D will prevent these diseases.
Naturally this has gotten people talking about supplements for babies and children. My personal preference is to try to get all the recommended vitamins and minerals from a healthy, varied diet before I start reaching for supplements. In that respect, I think my own family may be all right.
According to the report's co-author, Dr. Frank Greer, children would need to drink four cups of milk a day to meet the new requirement. Dr. Greer, I'd like to introduce you to my lactophile son. Between the copious amounts of milk he guzzles daily and his passion for cheese and yogurt I think we've got it covered, thank you.
The AAP is particularly concerned that breast milk may be especially low in mothers who are themselves vitamin D deficient. They are recommending supplements for breast-fed babies, which frustrates me a little (ever try giving a baby vitamin or mineral supplements?). I wish researchers could put greater focus on improving the nutrition of pregnant and nursing mothers.
If your child cannot or will not drink milk supplements may be a good idea. However, there are other good sources of vitamin D, such as egg yolks and oily fish (mackerel, tuna). Check out this list of foods high in vitamin D from Nutrition Data.com.
I'm just saying... let's take a breath, talk to our pediatricians, and think a moment before we go crazy with the supplements.
More news stories on the AAP's new recommendation for vitamin D