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The Importance of Vitamin D

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

As I start a new week and head to the office on a Monday morning there is some new news that will affect my daily practice. I have always been a big proponent in the need for children of all ages to drink milk to ensure healthy bones. We have talked about the concept of “banking your calcium” so that your calcium stores are growing while you are young and are “fully funded” by your 20s to ensure enough calcium for withdrawal later in life. The worry about this calcium issue is that many children do not drink milk or get enough dairy and that they may end up being adults with osteopenia and osteoporosis. Milk is also vitamin D fortified.

Now there is new data to show that children also need more vitamin D than previously thought as vitamin D may not only be involved in keeping bones healthy, but may also be beneficial in reducing risks of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. It was previously recommended that children and adults to age 50 years needed 200 units of vitamin D daily. The new recommendations will be 400 units per day.

So, exclusively breast fed babies will begin taking a vitamin supplement, and all of those children who are not drinking milk will also need calcium plus vitamin D supplement. The problem with this is getting mothers and children to remember to take a vitamin supplement. I have always recommended calcium for my patients who are not milk drinkers, but I have found that they rarely continue to take them more than several weeks to months and then they sit on the counter. This is especially true for tweens and teens who have rapidly growing bones too.

Here is more information to support the need for vitamin D, so drink that milk, get some sunshine everyday and make sure you get 400 units of vitamin D a day.

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat tomorrow!

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