(NaturalNews) Almost no children under the age of one get enough vitamin D in their diets to meet new guidelines, according to a study conducted by researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and published in the journal Pediatrics.
Researchers used a nationwide infant feeding survey conducted between 2005 and 2007 to estimate the average daily vitamin D intake of U.S. infants. They found that only 20 to 37 percent of formula-fed infants were getting the recommended daily 400 IU of vitamin D through their diet. Among breast-fed infants, the number was even lower -- 5 to 13 percent.
Breast milk is low in vitamin D, perhaps because human infants typically spent large amounts of time outdoors during our evolutionary history. Vitamin D is produced by the skin upon exposure to UVB rays from sunlight, and it is nearly impossible for either children or adults to get enough of the nutrient from diet alone. An infant would have to drink one liter of formula a day, for example, to meet recommendations for vitamin D intake.
Fear of skin cancer has led the American Academy of Pediatrics to recommend, however, that children be kept out of the direct sun entirely for the first six months of life, and that they only be allowed in the sun wearing sunscreen or protective clothing beyond that age -- thereby making vitamin D synthesis impossible. The only way to reconcile the sun recommendations and the vitamin D recommendations is therefore to suggest vitamin D supplements for nearly all infants.
"Breastfed infants definitely need a vitamin D supplement, and most formula-fed infants probably need supplementation too to get 400 IU a day," researcher Cria G. Perrine said.
Some doctors have started to question the recommendation to keep all children out of the sun, but Perrine says the guidelines are unlikely to change any time in the near future.