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With a decrease in the amount of sunlight people are exposed to as the short days of winter approach, you should consider supplementing your diet with Vitamin D.

Vitamin D intake is especially important for infants, children and teenagers as reflected by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) who revised their guidelines on daily dosage.

Previously, the AAP recommended that infants should get 200 IU (International Units) of Vitamin D a day beginning at two months of age. The new guidelines call for 400 IU of Vitamin D a day beginning shortly after birth.

Vitamin D is produced naturally in the skin from ultraviolet light, but with a trend toward avoiding direct sunlight due to skin cancer concerns, people are producing less Vitamin D on their own.

Test for Vitamin D Levels

Our Endocrinologists routinely screen patients for their Vitamin D levels and suggests that parents might ask their child’s pediatrician to test for Vitamin D levels. Inadequate levels of Vitamin D can lead to rickets, in which a softening of the bones occurs. Children who were given a supplement of 2,000 IU per day in Finland had a dramatic reduction in risk of developing Type 1 diabetes. Finland has the world’s highest rates of Type 1 diabetes. Part of the reason is because they have so many months of the year when there is no sunlight.

One reason there is a surge in the number of children and adults who are deficient in Vitamin D is because it’s not easy to take in through your diet. Vitamin D is found in fortified milk and fatty, cold water fish, he said. Cod liver oil is an ideal source of Vitamin D and while people may cringe at the thought of downing the oil, there are new variations with a much milder flavor. People can also supplement Vitamin D in their diet with a vitamin pill.

Breastfeeding mothers should pay attention to how much Vitamin D they are taking into their diet and consider a supplement to ensure their baby is getting enough in their diet as well. Most baby formulas are fortified with Vitamin D and mothers can determine if their little ones are taking in enough each day based on the amount of formula the baby drinks.