By Dr. Jana Wells
July 10, 2015
Category: Uncategorized
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Is Your Child Vitamin D Deficient?


Research suggests that about half of infants and toddlers are Vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D is a key nutrient in developing healthy bones, the immune system and metabolism in general.  

A study by Dr. Catherine Gordon and colleagues from Boston Children's Hospital demonstrates that at least one third of young children who are Vitamin D deficient have poor bone health.  This can cause under mineralization of the bones that can lead to fractures.  Even without broken bones in childhood, less bone mineralization means earlier development of osteoporosis in adulthood.  New bone mineralization ends by age 30, so optimal Vitamin D intake is especially important for children and young adults. In severe cases, Vitamin D deficiency can even cause deformity of children’s legs and ribs (Rickets).  

There is also mounting evidence that Vitamin D given to infants may lower the risk of Childhood Diabetes.  Vitamin D is also active in the immune system and may be important for fighting off infections and maybe even preventing cancer.  Research is ongoing in this field and new information is available monthly!

The main natural source of Vitamin D is sunlight.  However, we don't recommend getting Vitamin D primarily from sunlight due to the heightened risk of skin cancer with even modest regular exposure.  (You may have heard that Vitamin D needs can be met with 20 minutes of sun exposure on face and arms 3 days per week.  This is simply not true!)  There is some naturally occurring Vitamin D in certain foods: fish, liver, mushrooms, egg yolk. Dairy products are fortified with Vitamin D, as are some cereals and orange juice. However, none of these are likely provide enough vitamin D on a daily basis to optimize levels.  

In general, we favor the natural approach. However, in our experience, we have yet to find anyone with a sufficient Vitamin D level (> 30) who is not on a supplement.  For this reason, we recommend a supplement of Vitamin D3 1000 IU per day for the children over age 1 in our practice.  (Under age one, we recommend 800 IU).  This, in addition to a little sunlight and the foods listed above, seems to readily bring the Vitamin D level into the optimal range within a few months. We have no favorites with regard to brands of Vitamin D supplements; simply find a form (capsule, chewable tablet, liquid or gummy) that your child will readily take and set up a routine to give it daily.  We do not generally recommend "mega doses" of any Vitamin. Even this dose of Vitamin D is within the range recommended by United States Public Health Service.

To learn more about what Vitamin D does, the signs of Vitamin D deficiency, how to help your child to get enough Vitamin D and other Vitamin D FAQ, go to and check our Vitamin D section.