Doctors Say Teens, Babies Need More ‘D'

Pediatricians: Young People Need 'Sunshine Vitamin'

The country's leading group of pediatricians says American kids aren't getting enough Vitamin D and from now on, even newborns should get Vitamin D supplements.

Pediatricians say this is particularly important for breast-fed babies. Breast feeding is healthy, but if mom isn't getting enough Vitamin D, her baby won't either.

As for teenagers, doctors say they rarely come close to drinking the four cups of milk a day, which is what the new quota would require.

Only babies who are exclusively fed formula may get enough, because formula contains Vitamin D, doctors say.

The American Academy of Pediatrics now recomends 400 IU (International Units daily), which is double the 200 IU it set as a guideline before.

That's because in the last five years, scientific research has increasinly pointed to the potential benefits of Vitamin D. It's common knowledge that it helps build bones, but it now it's also believed to play a vital role in enhancing the immune system, and it may also protect against cancer and diabetes. This new evidence prompted pediatricians to urge that Vitamin D supplementation start early in the first year of life.

The evidence, however, is not conclusive, and government agencies like the Institute of Medicine haven't changed its dietary standards yet. Much of the available resesarch has largely been done on adults.

Even with existing standards, however, it's not easy to get enough Vitamin D from diet alone. That's especially true for kids, who rarely drink enough milk or eat enough fish -- and just try getting them to take cod liver oil every day.

For those living in the Chicago area, getting the required amount of sunshine may be impossible, especially in the winter. That leaves Vitamin D supplements, and most doctors say there's no harm in giving kids the newly reccomended amount.


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