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The Importance of Vitamin D

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

Doctors have known the importance of calcium and vitamin D for children’s bone health and for preventing osteopenia and osteoporosis later in life. Now new research is showing that vitamin D is equally important in preventing heart disease and diabetes.

Infants are breast-fed or formula fed until their first birthday and then begins drinking milk as their main source of calcium and vitamin D. For many children who “choose” (I don’t get the choice thing) not to drink milk they may substitute soft drinks, juices or water. Unfortunately none of the other beverages contains the necessary calcium and vitamin D and this may lead to vitamin D deficiency.

Recommendations in the last year have added that babies that are exclusively breast fed should be given a daily vitamin supplement, like poly vi sol or tri vi sol, to ensure that they are getting at least 400 IU of vitamin D per day. The recommendations also suggest that all children need at least 400 IU of vitamin D per day, and studies are being to conducted to see if the requirements are even higher. In addition children need to continue getting somewhere between 1,000 mg – 1,500 mg of calcium per day, depending on their age.

The current research by the American Heart Association looked at teens and vitamin D levels. Their findings showed that teens with the lowest vitamin D levels had a four times greater chance of developing metabolic syndrome (putting them at risk for diabetes) and a 2.4 times greater risk of developing high blood pressure.

How do you ensure adequate vitamin D and calcium for your family? A healthy diet should contain fortified milk and orange juice, as well as other dairy products with added vitamin D, egg yolks, tuna and salmon and some ready to eat breakfast cereals. Read the labels; look for vitamin D and calcium in foods. Sunshine is also a good source of vitamin D, but wear your sunscreen!

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

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