Recently, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) established new guidelines for Vitamin D. Also known as the “sunshine” vitamin, vitamin D is essential to maintain bone health. The vitamin functions to maintain normal levels of calcium and phosphorus in our body in order to keep our bones strong. Consuming too little vitamin D puts our children at risk for rickets, which causes bone deformity. In adulthood, too little vitamin D causes osteomalacia, which can contribute to muscle weakness and fragile bones.
Where do we get Vitamin D?
In addition to sunlight, which is difficult to acquire in the winter months depending on your climate, vitamin D is abundant in fortified dairy products, fish, and ready-to-eat cereals. See below to understand how much Vitamin D is in common foods we consume:
Salmon, sockeye, cooked (3 oz) = 794 International Units (IU)
Salmon, smoked (3 oz) = 583 IU
Tuna, light, canned in oil (3 oz) = 229 IU
Tuna, light, canned in water (3 oz) = 154 IU
Milk, skim, vitamin A & D added (8 oz) = 115 IU
Egg, whole (1 large) = 27 IU
How much does my child need?
Toddler age children and even into school age, have small appetites. Attempting to pack in sufficient vitamin D from food sources is tough, especially for those who don’t consume fish. Taking a supplement is suggested. However, taking more than 400 IUs in supplement form is not necessary, nor suggested. See this excerpted table from the IOM to determine how much vitamin D is appropriate, depending on your age. Infants 0-12 months should get at least 400 IUs daily; most standard infant formulas provide about 400 IUs per 32 oz. If they are taking less or exclusively breastfed, vitamin D should be supplemented in doses of 400 IU daily.
Bottom line, to ensure you and your child receive sufficient vitamin D, make sure to take a general multivitamin with at least 400 IUs of vitamin D daily. Remember to try to include fortified dairy products, fish, and when you can, get plenty of sunshine in your daily routine!