CHICAGO: The leading group of paediatricians in the U. S. says children from newborns to teens should get double the usually recommended amount of vitamin D because of evidence that it may help prevent serious diseases.
To meet the new recommendation of 400 units daily, children will need to take daily vitamin D supplements, the American Academy of Paediatrics said. That includes breast-fed infants — even those who get some formula, too, and many teens who drink little or no milk.
Baby formula contains vitamin D, so infants on formula only generally do not need supplements. However, the academy recommends breast-feeding for at least the first year of life and breast milk is sometimes deficient.
Most commercially available milk is fortified with vitamin D, but most children and teens do not drink enough of it — four cups daily would be needed — to meet the new requirement, said Dr. Frank Greer, the report’s co-author.
The new advice is based on mounting research about potential benefits from vitamin D besides keeping bones strong, including suggestions that it might reduce risks for cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
But the evidence is not conclusive and there is no consensus on how much of the vitamin would be needed for disease prevention. The new advice replaces a 2003 academy recommendation for 200 units daily. That is the amount the U.S. government recommends for children and adults up to age 50; 400 units is recommended for adults aged 51 to 70 and 600 units for those aged 71 and up.
The Institute of Medicine, a U.S. government group that sets dietary standards, is discussing with federal agencies whether those recommendations should change based on emerging research, a spokeswoman said.
The recommendations were prepared for release on Monday at an academy conference in Boston. They are to be published in the November issue of the journal, Pediatrics.
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