Just how important is it to give my toddler daily Vitamin D drops?
In the spring and summer, allow 20 minutes in the sunshine for you and your toddler - you'll both get all the Vitamin D you need. Then apply sunscreen - it will reduce the production of vitamin D from sunshine but will protect against skin damage.
After September, we are far from the equator in Canada and although our winters are sunny, we aren't receiving adequate Vitamin D. I suggest starting supplements when at noon, on a sunny day, you go outside and your shadow is longer than your height. Take D3 supplements until the late spring.
Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins for Canadians. In fact, the whole family - not just your toddler - should take Vitamin D3, a potent form of Vitamin D. The suggested dose for a toddler is 400-800 IU per day. Multivitamins may not all have that much Vitamin D, or they have Vitamin D2 which is one third as potent as Vitamin D3.
While there are a number of brands to choose from, I recommend drops and in a D3 format; studies show that these are easy to administer and if taken with food, absorption is improved.
Adults and teens can take 1000-2000 IU per day. The Institute of Medicine tells us that any dose under 4,000IU per day is safe (Vit D is fat soluble, meaning if we take too much, it can accumulate in our bodies)
Babies should get 400IU per day; preschoolers and early school aged kids should get 400-800 IU daily and teenagers can take an adult dose of 1,000IU daily.
Having low Vit D levels has been associated with: a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and poorly controlled asthma. When the H1N1 epidemic hit Canada, a study was published showing that people with low Vit D were more prone to get this infection.
Send pediatrician Peter Nieman your questions at email@example.com. He will answer select questions, which could appear in The Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail web site. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.
Read more Q&As from Dr. Peter Nieman.
Click here to see Q&As from all of our health experts.
The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.