Today at our annual meeting in Boston, the American Academy of Pediatrics doubled the recommended amount of vitamin D that children get each day to 400 IU, in response to mounting evidence of the life-long health benefits of getting plenty of the sunshine vitamin.
I applaud this move, and have felt for some time that the old 200 IU recommendation was too low. Taking the vitamin daily will be important for many kids, because they do not get enough from their sun exposure and diet. Over the summer, research showed an astonishing forty percent of healthy babies and toddlers were not getting enough – and the same was true of American teens.
The more closely we look at vitamin D, the more we learn about how important this sunshine vitamin is to both short and long-term health for children. Exciting research has linked getting abundant vitamin D to helping to prevent asthma, eczema, diabetes, and cancer – among other things.
It’s become more difficult to get enough vitamin D in recent years because kids spend more time indoors, wear more sunscreen (appropriately), eat less tuna (because of mercury concerns), and drink less vitamin D-fortified milk (in favor of sweetened drinks with less nutrition). It would take a quart of milk a day to get the levels now recommended.