American Children are Vitamin D Deficient

The shocking results of a recent study conducted across the U.S. revealed 7 out of 10 children have dangerously low levels of vitamin D leaving them at risk of heart disease, rickets, and weak bones.

The study analyzed data gathered in the 2001 to 2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) of a nationally representative sample of 6,275 children aged 1 to 21.

Kids who have low vitamin D levels are at serious risk of heart disease in adulthood, find Johns Hopkins researcher Jared P. Reis, PhD, and colleagues. Reis' team analyzed data from 3,577 12- to 19-year-olds in the NHANES database.

They found that even after controlling for all kinds of factors that affect heart disease risk—obesity, exercise levels, race/ethnicity, age, gender, and socioeconomic status—low vitamin D put kids at risk of heart disease as adults.

A sufficient amount of vitamin D is difficult to obtain from dietary sources. It is possible to obtain vitamin D from direct sun exposure—without sunscreen (sunscreens block UV-B rays they in turn prevent the body from converting vitamin D). However, since the generous amount of sunshine necessary to assure sufficient vitamin D exposure is potentially harmful and because children often spend too much time indoors watching television, playing video games, or on the computer, it is advisable for all children to assure vitamin D levels with supplements, not sunshine.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated their guidelines in 2008 for vitamin D intake in infants, children, and teens to prevent rickets and vitamin D deficiency. Their latest guidelines increased the recommended minimum daily intake from 200 IUs to 400 IUs per day of vitamin D for all infants, children, and adolescents beginning in the first few days of life.

I suggest children require even more vitamin D then what is available through breast milk, formula and most multivitamins. My Osteo-Sun capsules are a great source of vitamin D and can easily be twisted opened and the tasteless powder mixed into children's food or drink. Each capsule provides 300 IUs of D3.

I recommend the following daily supplementation for children to ensure adequate intake of vitamin D.

Children 0 to 6 months:

  • Liquid vitamin D supplement for infant, with 4-6 capsules of Osteo-Sun daily for pregnant or breastfeeding mother as well

Children 6 to 24 months:

  • 1 capsule of Osteo-Sun opened and mixed in formula or food

Children 24 months to 6 years:

  • 2 capsules of Osteo-Sun opened and mixed in food or drink

6 years and up:

  • 3 capsules of Osteo-Sun opened and mixed in food or taken by mouth

In addition, I also recommend children 1 year and up supplement with his multivitamin, Pixie-Vites, and DHA Purity. See my vitamin advisor for details.

And to learn more about how to protect your children's health, read my book Disease-Proof Your Child:

  • An essential guide for raising children with healthy minds and bodies.
  • The how-to's for reducing occurrences of ear infections, allergies, and asthma.
  • Delicious, easy to prepare, kid-tested healthy recipes designed to please even the fussiest eaters
  • An arsenal against developing cancer, autoimmune disorders, and cardiovascular disease.

Kumar, J. Pediatrics, September 2009; vol 124, published online ahead of print. Reis, J.P. Pediatrics, September 2009; vol 124, published online ahead of print. News release, Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Image credit: Zixii

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Comments (3) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Natalie - August 10, 2009 1:44 PM

Sorry Dr. Fuhrman, I think I'll side with the breastfeeding experts on this one who actually DON'T recommend routine vitamin D supplementation for most breastfed babies.

Particularly when it's well known that the gastrointestinal tract is not the best way to receive vitamin D.

Per "Infant feeding: the physiological basis" [WHO, 1991] by James Akre,

" is now understood that the optimal route for vitamin D ingestion in humans is not the gastrointestinal tract, which may permit toxic amounts to be absorbed. Rather, the skin is the human organ designed, in the presence of sunlight, both to manufacture vitamin D in potentially vast quantities and to prevent the absorption of more than the body can safely use and store."

And I don't see any mention here of two most important risk factors for Vitamin D deficiency - those living in severely northern climates who get little sun exposure throughout the year and those with dark skin which, as you know, is less efficient at absorbing vitamin D than lighter skin.

Your post would lead the average person to believe that all people are inherently at risk for vitamin D deficiency, regardless of ethnicity, location, availablity of sunlight, etc.

As far as your commentary goes in regard to getting enough sunlight - I find it laughable at best and dangerously, misleading at worst.

Are you truly advocating that parents pump their children full of supplements rather than make the effort to get them outside to play for the 5-30 minutes twice a week most people need to absorb sufficient amounts of vitamin D? I find that absolutely shocking.

But I guess recommending kids get a little bit of daily sunlight - and exercise - to maintain their wellness doesn't really give you the opportunity to shill a product.

Shame on you!

Joel Fuhrman, MD - August 10, 2009 6:38 PM

These comments make a relevant critical point. They demonstrate old, recalcitrant attitudes, that are causing people to die needlessly. It is dangerous to think this way. The ignorant viewpoint that sunlight can adequately supply adequate D to most of our population has already been thoroughly disproven. In other words, cancer, heart disease, autoimmune illnesses and other serious and even life-threatening illnesses have been now linked to Vitamin D deficiencies, and these deficiencies still occur in
MOST individuals, even Caucasians, who think they are getting adequate sunshine. Discovering the powerful effect that Vitamin D adequacy has to protect against cancer and the reality that 80 percent of our population is
deficient is one of the biggest findings in human nutrition in the last twenty years. I agree with the medical authorities here. We need to take Vitamin D supplementation. And if you don't want to supplement your nursing infant, you better make sure your blood level is in the highest quartile of vitamin D sufficiency. Ignorance and stubbornness is no defense when you damage your own child.

People who do not read the literature here still believe what they learned years ago that 10 - 20 minutes of sunshine a day is all we need for adequate D. Untrue, even many Caucasians who spend over an hour in the sun each day are deficient as determined by recent studies and furthermore to assure Vitamin D sufficiency with enough sunshine (in our ozone depleted world) we must create an epidemic of skin cancer.

With this avalanche of science, it was relevant to mention that my OsteoSun is in a almost tasteless powder that does not require swallowing and can be twisted open and used by children. There are other Vitamin D supplements that come in liquids for children that are just as good. Nobody has to be hurt by Vitamin D ignorance, in fact all it takes is a simple blood test to determine if a person is deficient or not. If unsure, if you are getting a sufficient amount from supplements, sun, or some combination all you need do
is to have your blood tested. Walking around with a blindfold on, is not the best option.

An important study for reference:;122/5/1142#SEC5

Emily Boller - August 11, 2009 8:56 AM


With all due respect to your opinions, the above statement that Dr. Fuhrman is "too much into making money and less about helping concerned moms and dads" is totally untrue.

The truth is that Dr. Fuhrman is very concerned for the optimal health and well-being of children.

He is totally committed to helping moms and dads navigate nutritional and health concerns for their children.

For less money than the price of gas that it takes to drive across town, and even excluding the cost of a physician's co-pay, Dr. Fuhrman can be contacted most any time via the on-line members' center on his web site that he has created to support individuals, including parents, who are committed to optimal health for themselves and their families.

I've read the questions parents ask. I've read Dr. Fuhrman's responses. He's committed to the best possible health for chilren, and he's committed to helping their parents achieve that goal.

This past year I had a seriously ill child who required hospitalization. Dr. Fuhrman not only guided my husband and I through that tying time, but also during the months of recovery afterwards. My child's health and well-being has been fully restored, thanks to his nutritional wisdom and guidance.

And, by the way, my health has been completely restored also due to the fact that Dr. Fuhrman's books and products were made known to the public.

I'm sure if you could survey the many, many, many lives that have literally been rescued from the destructive lifestyle of food addiction and chronic malnutrition that resulted in poor health and disease, you would discover tons of individuals who are thankful that Dr. Furhman's products have been made known to the public! He only designs products when there is nothing else out there on the market for his clients and patients to help make nutritional excellence possible. I (and I'm sure many others) am glad that he has made them known!

Many lives are literally being saved because of it.

Emily Boller

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