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Does my toddler need vitamin D drops? Add to ...

The question

Just how important is it to give my toddler daily Vitamin D drops?

The answer

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 pediatrician@globeandmail.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 Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.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.

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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.

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