The Importance of Vitamin D: How to Ensure Your Child is Getting Enough

In the world of nutrition, Vitamin D is a hot topic. In recent years, research has shown that Vitamin D plays a major role in health, beyond its known benefit for bone health.  Children who do not get enough Vitamin D are at a greater risk for certain health problems, such as asthma and allergies[i].  Severe Vitamin D deficiency can lead to a serious bone disease called Rickets.

Recommended Intake

In 2010, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) increased the recommended daily intake of Vitamin D for all age groups. The recommended intake for infants is 400 IU per day and for children and adults, 600 IU per day[ii].  Although Vitamin D can be obtained from sun exposure, kids play outside less than in previous years and sunscreen, which is recommended to prevent skin cancer, greatly reduces the body’s ability to make Vitamin D from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. This means that children must get Vitamin D from their diet or from a supplement.

Vitamin D Sources:

The main dietary source of Vitamin D for children is fortified cow’s milk. Recent research suggests that the optimal daily intake of fortified milk is two cups per day for most children[iii].  Two cups (16 fluid ounces) of low fat, fortified cow’s milk provides about 254 IU of Vitamin D. This amount does not meet the recommended daily intake of 600 IU, so this recommendation assumes that children are getting some Vitamin D from other sources.  Other dietary sources of Vitamin D include fortified cereals, other dairy products, and oily fish.

Vitamin D for Children with Food Allergies

If your little one has a milk allergy, it’s important to ensure that they get adequate Vitamin D from allergy-friendly sources.  Be sure to provide a milk-replacement that is fortified with Vitamin D. If your child’s food allergies also limit their intake of other Vitamin D sources, like cereal and fish, consider adding a Vitamin D supplement to their diet. For those of you whose children drink Neocate Junior, you may have heard that the Vitamin D level has recently been increased.  For reference, two cups of the upgraded Neocate Junior will provide about 380 IU of Vitamin D, which is more than the amount provided by the same quantity of cow’s milk. This increased level of Vitamin D helps to account for the dietary limitations of children with food allergies, which may make it difficult for them to get enough Vitamin D from their diet. In order to meet 100% of the recommended level of Vitamin D (600 IU), children 1 year and over need to drink about 25 fluid ounces (about 3 cups) of Neocate Junior per day.

Have questions about Vitamin D? Ask away!

Mallory West


Photo source:

[i] Jonathon L. Maguire et al. Modifiable Determinants of Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Status in Early ChildhoodOpportunities for PreventionDeterminants of Early Childhood Vitamin D Status. JAMA Pediatrics, 2013; : 1 DOI: 10.1001/2013.jamapediatrics.226.

[ii] Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2011.

[iii] Jonathon L. Maguire, Gerald Lebovic, Sharmilaa Kandasamy, Marina Khovratovich, Muhammad Mamdani, Catherine S. Birken, and Patricia C. Parkin , on behalf of the TARGet Kids! Collaboration. The Relationship Between Cow’s Milk and Stores of Vitamin D and Iron in Early Childhood. Pediatrics, December 17, 2012 DOI: 10.1542/peds.2012-1793.

Published: 02/06/2013
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