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Originally published April 17 2009

Pediatricians Finally Admit Children Need More Vitamin D

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has doubled its recommended daily vitamin D intake for children and adolescents, citing concern over rising levels of rickets as well as new evidence that higher vitamin D intake may help prevent against a wide variety of diseases.

Vitamin D plays a critical role in bone health. Deficiency in children can lead to the bone-softening disease rickets, which can cause permanent deformity.

"New evidence [also] supports a potential role for vitamin D in maintaining innate immunity and preventing diseases such as diabetes and cancer," the new policy reads.

The policy increases the recommended vitamin D intake for children and adolescents from 200 IU to 400 IU per day.

"The recommendation is going to be essentially a supplement for every child and adolescent in the United States," said co-author Frank R. Greer, a University of Wisconsin pediatrician.

Greer noted that for a variety of reasons, children often have trouble getting all of their vitamin D from natural sources. While the body synthesizes the vitamin naturally from sunlight, concern over skin cancer risk has led many parents to keep kids from playing outdoors except when wearing sunscreen.

Sunscreen blocks the ultraviolet rays that stimulate the skin to produce vitamin D.

Infants who don't get enough sun are at an especially high risk for vitamin D deficiency, since breast milk is very low in the vitamin.

"Breastfeeding babies are at particular risk because there's not much vitamin D in human milk," Greer said. "Any kids whose mothers are vitamin D deficient ... are at risk for getting full-blown rickets. [The presence of rickets] usually becomes obvious when the child begins to walk."

Pediatrician Steven Abrams, who has helped write other AAP guidelines, stressed that the new policy should not be interpreted as a recommendation to stop breastfeeding.

"Giving vitamins to your babies is in no way saying that breastfeeding isn't adequate," Abrams said.

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