Getting enough vitamin D is an important part of staying healthy. Vitamin D helps with calcium absorption, and thus is a critical part of how our bodies make and maintain strong bones. Research shows that it also plays a role in keeping our immune systems healthy and may help to prevent certain chronic diseases.
Many of us get our vitamin D from the sun and drinking milk, but families often wonder how to help their children get enough vitamin D to meet daily requirements.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants receive 400 international units (IU) per day of vitamin D. For children older than 1 year, the recommended amount is 600 IUs per day.
Vitamin D is found in a number of foods, some naturally and some through fortification. Foods that are naturally high in vitamin D include oily fish (such as salmon, sardines and mackerel), beef liver, egg yolks, mushrooms and cheese. Below are some estimates of vitamin D levels (per serving) of a variety of foods.
|TYPE OF FOOD||IUs OF VITAMIN D PER SERVING|
|Salmon, 3.5 ounces||360 IUs|
|Tuna (canned), 1.75 ounces||200 IUs|
|Shrimp, 4 ounces||162 IUs|
|Orange juice (vitamin D fortified), 1 cup||137 IUs|
|Milk (vitamin D fortified), 1 cup||100 IUs|
|Egg, 1 large||41 IUs|
|Cereal (vitamin D fortified), ¾ cup||40 IUs|
|Shiitake mushrooms, 1 cup||29 IUs|
All infants who are breast fed (and even many who are formula fed) should receive a daily vitamin D supplement.
In addition, the majority of children do not eat diets high in foods containing vitamin D, so a vitamin D supplement or multivitamin may be an important part of helping them meet their daily requirements. Talk to your child’s health care provider about recommendations.
National Institutes of Health (NIH) has more information on vitamin D, including vitamin D recommendations for all age groups.
Molly Martyn, MD, is a pediatric hospitalist at Children’s Minnesota.