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Too Many Infants Short on Vitamin D
Date:3/22/2010

exclusively breast-fed, only 5 percent to 13 percent, depending on age, were getting enough vitamin D. For infants who were breast-fed but also got formula, 28 percent to 35 percent were getting 200 IUs of vitamin D a day, but only 9 percent to 14 percent were getting 400 IUs a day.

For infants fed exclusively with formula, 81 percent to 98 percent were getting 200 IUs a day, but only 20 percent to 37 percent were getting the recommended 400 IUs.

"In the past, it was assumed that children receiving formula didn't need a vitamin D supplement, because they were getting it from the formula," Perrine said.

Although they were getting enough formula to meet the 200 IU recommendation, most formula-fed infants won't get enough vitamin D to meet the 400 IU recommendation, Perrine noted.

In addition, the investigators found that only 1 percent to 13 percent of infants were being given a vitamin D supplement.

"Most infants need a vitamin D supplement, and we are not only talking about only breast-fed children," Perrine said.

Samantha Heller, a dietitian, nutritionist and exercise physiologist, said that "low levels of vitamin D may not seem like a big deal but we are finding out it is. Research is suggesting that low vitamin D levels are linked to autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, as well as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, osteoporosis, mood dysregulation, muscle problems, certain cancers and more."

Heller added: "Sun exposure is one of the best ways to get vitamin D since it is not found in many foods. However, for people living in northern latitudes the sun is not strong enough to generate vitamin D production many months of the year. In addition, we encourage people to use sunscreen to protect against skin cancers, which also minimizes skin's ability to produce vitamin D."

Supplements are the next best option, Heller said. "Experts now recommend a minimum of 800
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