Vitamin D supplementation is a commonly discussed topic, especially for those of us who live in not-so-sunny Northeast Ohio! Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that our bodies need for calcium absorption as well as bone growth. It’s found in some foods, but we can also absorb vitamin D via sunlight. It’s said that just 15 to 30 minutes spent outside in the direct sunlight can prompt the skin to make all the vitamin D children need — so get those kids outside!
Because the area where we live doesn’t get as much sun as many other parts of the country, it can sometimes be difficult for Northeast Ohioans to maintain adequate vitamin D levels without supplementation. For children, the most common dietary source is whole milk, which is fortified with vitamin D. Because other vitamin D-containing foods such as salmon, tuna, egg yolks, etc., tend to not be quite as popular with children, a supplement is often used by parents to ensure adequate intake. The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) for vitamin D for children over 1 is 15 mcg. It’s important for parents to read food labels and calculate the estimated amount of vitamin D from food intake, as well as the amount coming from a supplement. If children consume too much vitamin D, adverse effects, such as kidney stones, can result.
Infants need vitamin D as well. Although mother’s breast milk is the gold standard for babies, exclusively breastfed infants do not receive enough vitamin D, and a supplement is recommended. Vitamin D supplementation is also recommended for formula-fed babies who consume less than 32 ounces of formula per day.
For more guidance, talk to your child’s pediatrician.