Thursday, February 11, 2016

Why does my child need Vitamin D?

How much vitamin D do children need? Is a supplement required in some cases? Find out more here.

Why does my child need Vitamin D?


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.

Vitamin D is a hot topic in science. A search of PubMed, a virtual library of scientific publications, yields more than 60,000 articles. In the lab, Vitamin D is shown to potentially play a protective role in all sorts of things, including immune function and even cancer. In people, the actual health effects are less clear.

Here at duPont Hospital for Children we’re looking at the role of Vitamin D as it relates to our patients with eczema. This is clinical research with human subjects rather than a lab-based study. Hundreds of other research studies are going on across the country and around the world. We expect that this research will result in a clearer understanding of the role of Vitamin D in human health.

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About this blog
The Healthy Kids blog is your window into the latest news, research and advice around children's health. Learn more about our growing list of contributors here.

If you have questions about your child's health, ask them here.

Anna Nguyen Healthy Kids blog Editor
Sarah Levin Allen, Ph.D., CBIS Assistant Professor of Psychology at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Stephen Aronoff, M.D., M.B.A. Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Temple University Hospital
Peter Bidey, D.O. Medical Director of Family Medicine at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Christopher C. Chang, MD, PhD, MBA, FAAAAI, FACAAI Associate Professor of Medicine in division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Clinical Immunology at UC Davis
Katherine K. Dahlsgaard, Ph.D. Lead Psychologist of The Anxiety Behaviors Clinic at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Gary A. Emmett, M.D., F.A.A.P Director of Hospital Pediatrics at TJU Hospital & Pediatrics Professor at Thomas Jefferson Univ.
Magee DeFelice, M.D. Chief of Allergy and Immunology at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children
Hazel Guinto-Ocampo, M.D. Chief of Pediatric Emergency Services at Nemours duPont Pediatrics/Bryn Mawr Hospital
Rima Himelstein, M.D. Adolescent Medicine Specialist at Crozer-Keystone Health System
Jessica Kendorski, PhD, NCSP, BCBA-D Associate Professor in School Psychology/Applied Behavior Analysis at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Anita Kulick President & CEO, Educating Communities for Parenting
Janet Rosenzweig, MS, PhD, MPA VP for Programs & Research for Prevent Child Abuse America
Beth Wallace Smith, R.D. Registered Dietitian at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Emiliano Tatar, M.D. Pediatrician at Einstein Healthcare Network Roxborough Plaza
Jeanette Trella, Pharm.D Managing Director at The Poison Control Center at CHOP
W. Douglas Tynan, Ph.D., ABPP Director of Integrated Health Care for American Psychological Association
Flaura Koplin Winston, M.D., Ph.D. Scientific Director of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention
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