Pamela Bond's Blog

How can we help children get enough vitamin D?

A new study in the journal Pediatrics has found that at least one in five U.S. children aged 1 to 11 could be seriously lacking in vitamin D. Even more astounding, almost 90 percent of black children and 80 percent of Hispanic kids in that age group could get too little of the vitamin. Using the 2001–2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the researchers took the first look at the vitamin-D status of this population. The findings add to mounting evidence that supports boosting vitamin D intake recommendations, especially because recent research has suggested that vitamin D might help protect against osteoporosis, cancer and high blood pressure. And a new study showed that vitamin D supplementation may improve insulin resistance and sensitivity--both risk factors for diabetes.

I’m not alone in predicting that the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine will dramatically increase the daily reference intake (DRI) of vitamin D when the organization releases a new report next year. The question: By how much will the Institute raise the amount from its current 200 IU/day?

Consumers are already clamoring for more vitamin D for themselves and their kids, and with likely DRI increases, they'll want more--and more options for getting the vitamin. Will manufacturers fortify more foods with vitamin D beyond dairy, juices, cereals and bars? Last March, the FDA decided to allow soy-based foods and drinks to be fortified with vitamin D2. Will even-more supplement manufacturers come out with kid-friendly delivery systems for vitamin D? Some already offer gummies, chewables and wafers. Time to stock up.

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