A new study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics shows what many experts suspected…children in the US are not getting enough vitamin D. Overall, 9%, representing 7.6 million US children and adolescents, were vitamin D deficient and 61%, representing 50.8 million US children and adolescents, had insufficient vitamin D stores.
Children who drank milk less than once a week or used >4 hours of television, video, or computers per day were most at risk. That’s because we absorb vitamin D from sunlight or by eating vitamin D rich foods like milk (skim, 1%, 2%, or whole cow’s milk and fortified soy or rice milks) and fish (salmon, tuna, etc.). The amount of sun exposure needed to meet vitamin D requirements varies, depending on skin color. Fair skinned people need to average about 15 minutes on hands and face (without sunscreen) daily, while darker skinned people need 3-5 times the amount of time in the sun.
Obese children were also more at risk of having vitamin D deficiency. The relationship is complex, but vitamin D is sequestered in fat tissue, and obese children may have a more sedentary, indoor lifestyle.
How much vitamin D do children need? Many experts say 800-1,000 IU daily are needed for children to achieve appropriate vitamin D levels, but current requirements are 400 IU daily. The American Academy of Pediatrics forsees a change in the official recommendations and has updated their guidelines to suggest all infants, children, and teens take a 400 IU/day vitamin D supplement.
Enjoy the August sunshine! Julie