We Are Sunshine

Pediatric group doubles its vitamin D recommendation for infants. But is that enough?

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

The largest American group of pediatric physicians has doubled its vitamin D recommendation for young children — adding to a long list of medical organizations now recognizing vitamin D deficiency as a critical problem.

2008-10-14-d-in-milk-tanningnews-copy.jpgThe American Academy of Pediatrics now says that young children need a minimum of 400 international units of vitamin D daily, beginning in the first few days of life. But the group’s action appears to fall short of identifying the true targets for vitamin D deficiency.

“Breast-feeding is the best source of nutrition for infants. However, because of vitamin D deficiencies in the maternal diet, which affect the vitamin D in a mother’s milk, it is important that breast-fed infants receive supplements of vitamin D,” Dr. Carol Wagner, one of the report’s authors, said in a statement.

Wagner’s statement did not mention that the reason most breast milk is vitamin D deficient is that most mothers are vitamin D deficient. New research suggests mothers need as much as 6,400 international units of vitamin D daily in order to pass vitamin D onto babies in breast milk.

The statement also didn’t address the real issue: Measuring vitamin D blood levels.

“The vitamin D community is calling for vitamin D blood levels of at least 40-60 nanograms per liter,” Smart Tan Vice President Joseph Levy said. “That’s the real end-point. Just telling people how much D intake they need would be like a heart specialist telling you to lower your blood cholesterol, but not telling you what your cholesterol readings need to be.”

The AAP also acknowledged that sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, but said that exposure to sunlight can also increase skin cancer risk. “Again, there is no data showing that sun exposure in a non-burning fashion is a significant risk factor for skin cancer,” Levy said. “It is becoming obvious that the Sun Scare lobby has intimidated other groups from encouraging sun exposure as the best source of vitamin D even though it is the only true natural source. It’s called the Sunshine Vitamin for a reason.”