There has been a great deal of news lately about the need, or lack thereof, for vitamin supplements. The latest research tells us that most dietary supplements don’t show benefit and in high doses, could be harmful. Bear in mind that this recent information pertains to adults, who are advised to get the vitamins and nutrients that they need from the foods they eat.
Growing children may benefit from vitamin supplements if they don’t get the recommended daily allowances (RDA) of nutrients from their food. Vitamin D is important for bone health because it aids in the absorption of calcium. You can find it abundantly in foods such as fish, eggs and milk. When kids eat the right foods and get some daily exposure to sunlight, they shouldn’t be deficient in Vitamin D. (It’s a complex process, but basically, sunlight is a catalyst that stimulates the syntheses of Vitamin D from cholesterol in the body.)
The current guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics for Vitamin D call for a minimum of:
- Ages 1-7: 600 IUs daily (IU = International Unit)
- Age 7 and up: 800 IUs daily
Overall, the recommended range for children is 600-1000 IUs daily. We encourage parents to read labels to see how the foods their kids eat are meeting their needs. If it’s clear their diet alone can’t supply the RDA of Vitamin D, then parents should ask their pediatrician if a supplement is needed. And make sure kids get at least 15 minutes exposure to sunlight every day, protecting their skin, of course.