A new clinical report released yesterday by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) at its National Conference and Exhibition, titled “Prevention of Rickets and Vitamin D Deficiency in Infants, Children and Adolescents,” doubles the recommended amount of vitamin D for infants, children, and adolescents.

The AAP adjusted their recommendations for vitamin D issued in 2003, from 200 IU a day beginning in the first two months of life to 400 units per day of vitamin D beginning in the first few days of life. The guidelines were revised based on new clinical trials and past recommendations that 400 IU of vitamin D per day can be safely given to children to prevent or treat rickets and may provide additional health benefits. According to the AAP report, children 1 year of age and older should consume vitamin D from vitamin D-fortified milk and other fortified foods and take a supplement if needed, under guidance by a pediatrician. Babies that are exclusively and partially breastfed are particularly at risk for vitamin D deficiency and should receive a vitamin D supplement until they begin drinking at least 32 ounces of formula a day.

“Research shows that increasing vitamin D intake can provide life-long health benefits, yet data indicate that most children are not getting enough,” says Frank R. Greer MD, FAAP and chairman of the AAP Committee on Nutrition. “It’s important that each parent talks with their child’s pediatrician to determine if their child is meeting the appropriate vitamin D levels to help prevent deficiency.”

Consuming three servings of vitamin D-fortified milk not only provides vitamin D but also many other nutrients that contribute to overall health and a reduced risk of chronic diseases.

Dairy foods are the main sources of calcium and vitamin D in the diets of Americans. Three 8-oz. glasses of low-fat and fat-free vitamin D-fortified milk or equivalent milk products daily, as recommended by the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans ages 9 years and older, provide 90 percent of the recommended daily value (DV) for calcium and 75 percent of the DV for vitamin D.