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Check Your Child’s Vitamin D Level

Check Your Child’s Vitamin D Level

When the Northern Lights dance across the arctic sky in Finland each winter, some say it makes up for the 18 hours of darkness during extra-long nights. But that psychedelic lightshow doesn’t change the fact that kids there are often deprived of exposure to vitamin-D-producing sunlight.

So researchers from Turku, Finland, thought they’d see what the health repercussions were for vitamin D-deprived kids 3-18 years old by the time they turned 30-45. Turns out those with the lowest vitamin D levels when they were young had the most plaque-clogged carotid arteries as middle-age adults. That amps up the risk of stroke.

What does this mean for North Americans (same hemisphere), where 75% of teens and adults are D-ficient? Well, parents should think about their kids’ vitamin D levels -- ‘cause how youngsters live today determines the quality and quantity of their lives tomorrow. And when it comes to taking supplements, don’t be wimpy! According to the NIH, the safe upper limit for vitamin D is 1,000 to 1,500 IU/day for infants; 2,500 to 3,000 IU/day for children 1-8; and 4,000 IU/day for children 9 and older.

So get a blood test to check if your child is deficient (and to track the effect of taking a supplement): The National Institute of Medicine says infants and children shouldn’t go below 11ng/mL. We personally aim for levels around 35. Above 35, even up to 50-80, is better than below. Talk to your doc about protecting your kids from the repercussions of D-ficiency.

Medically reviewed in July 2019.

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