News article

3 Ways to improve vitamin D status in children

Posted:  Thursday, December 24, 2015

Vitamin D is important for the health and well-being of children. Mounting evidence supports the protective effect of vitamin D in many chronic diseases. During summers, the body is replenished with vitamin D by exposure to sunlight. However, the lack of exposure to sun during the winter necessitates vitamin D supplementation, especially in the extremes of latitudes. A recent study recommends dairy products fortified with vitamin D for children and adolescents.

The Physical Activity and Nutrition In Children (PANIC) study was published in the British Journal of Nutrition. A total of 512 Finnish children aged 6-8 years participated in the study conducted by the Institute of Biomedicine at the University of Eastern Finland during 2007-2009.

Researchers found that milk was the main source of vitamin D (50%) in children along with dietary fats (30%) and fish (10%). Almost 20% of the subjects had serum vitamin D levels lower than the cut-off level of 50 nmol/l. Consumption of vitamin D from food and supplements was found to be less than the recommended amount of 10 μg per day in more than 80% of the children.

According to the 2014 Finnish nutrition recommendations, 7.5μg per day of vitamin D supplements may be administered to children and adolescents. They also advised to take 2.5-3 glasses of vitamin D fortified milk and 2-3 servings of fish per week. Outdoor exercise and vegetable oil based spreads were also recommended.

The study infers that adequate consumption of fortified dairy products is primarily important to maintain serum vitamin D level in children and adolescents. This strategy may be adopted by other countries to raise vitamin D level in children where milk consumption is quite high.