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Current Thinking on Vitamin D

by KristenY on February 4, 2014 · 0 comments

I was asked by a mom in the Kids In Victoria community to write a post on Vitamin D.

Vitamin D is involved in building and maintaining strong bones and teeth. You’ve also likely heard about how it’s being investigated by the scientific research community for a wide variety of other roles in our bodies. While there isn’t enough evidence yet of vitamin D’s involvement in all these other roles, the research strengthens the idea that we want to make sure that babies and kids (and us adults too) get the recommended amount of vitamin D.

Here are the current recommendations:

Age Recommended Intake Safe Upper Level
Birth to 6 months 400 IU 1000
6 to 12 months 400 IU 1500
1 – 3 years 600 IU 2500
4 – 8 years 600 IU 3000
9 – 70 years 600 IU 4000
Over 70 years 800 IU 4000
Pregnant + Breastfeeding 600 IU 4000

For Babies Less Than 12 months Old

Breast milk is naturally low in vitamin D (yes, even if you’re taking vitamin D yourself). Therefore, if you’re breastfeeding your baby, it’s recommended that you give your baby 400IU of vitamin D drops every day.

Formula does have vitamin D in it. If your baby takes 1000mL (32ounces) of formula a day, then you don’t need to give your baby vitamin D drops. If your baby takes less than 1000mL (32 ounces) of formula a day (for example, if you do both breastfeeding and formula), then it’s recommended that you give your baby 400IU of vitamin D drops per day.

Kids and Teens

Kids and Teens need 600IU of vitamin D per day.  This can be from a combination of food and vitamin supplements (e.g. drops, pills, gummies).

It’s true that vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin because our bodies make it from exposure to the sun. But our bodies don’t make it at the latitude of Victoria (or anywhere in Canada) from September through March. Our bodies also don’t make it when we wear sunscreen. So if you’re choosing to keep your kids be sun safe, you need to rely on vitamin D from food and supplements.

Vitamin D isn’t found in many foods. I listed a number of the best sources of vitamin D below. Note that while fluid cows milk has vitamin D in it, most yogurts and cheeses are made with cow’s milk without vitamin D added, so they aren’t good sources of vitamin D. Some yogurts are starting to be made with vitamin D fortified cow’s milk. The Iogo brand is one example. Read the labels to find out if the yogurt you like is made with vitamin D. While many kids are happy to drink lots and lots of glasses of milk, this usually crowds out other foods resulting in an unhealthy balance and not enough of other important nutrients (such as iron). Because of this, it’s recommended that kids drink a maximum of 2 glasses of milk a day. Goat’s milk, soy milk, almond milk, and other alternative milks may or may not have vitamin D added to them. Read the labels to find out.

Food How Much Vitamin D
Cow’s Milk 1 cup 100 IU
Formula 1 cup (250mL or 4 oz) 100 IU
Fortified Soy Milk 1 cup 80 IU
Fortified Orange Juice ½ cup 45 IU
Egg Yolk 1 25 IU
Salmon, canned or cooked 75grams (2.5 ounces) 608 IU
Tuna, canned 75grams (2.5 ounces) 41 IU

Since sunshine and foods end up playing a small role in providing vitamin D, most kids need to continue to get vitamin D from a supplement.

How Many Drops Do You Need?

The amount (i.e. number of drops) that you need to give your baby, child, or teen is different with the different types and brands of drops. Here are a few examples:

  • Ddrops brand’s Baby Ddrops have 400IU per drop
  • Ddrops brand’s Ddrops Booster has 600IU per drop
  • Enfamil brand’s D Vi-Sol has 400IU in 1 ML (fill dropper to the line)

Read the label on your package to find out how many drops you need.

Known as The Dietitian who Transforms Picky Eaters into Food-Confident Kids, Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD, through her business Vitamin K Nutrition Consulting, answers the question “How do I get my kids to try new foods?”. Get your (free) copy of 101 Healthy Snack Ideas (that even picky toddlers and preschoolers will eat) at: www.vitaminkconsulting.com/101snacks

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