Vitamin D

Vitamin D requirements in adults and older children are met by the exposure of the skin to sunlight, but infants and young children and those who may not receive adequate exposure have a dietary requirement for vitamin D. Breast milk content depends on maternal status, but breast milk and body stores should provide sufficient vitamin D to meet requirements until the age of 6 months. After this age, several countries recommend a supplement for breast-fed infants. Formula milks are fortified with

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vitamin D. Deficiency of vitamin D in childhood causes rickets. In Western countries dark-skinned immigrant groups, particularly preschool children and adolescent Asian groups, are especially at risk of low levels of vitamin D because they require more sunlight exposure to synthesise adequate amounts of vitamin D compared to fairer skinned groups. The use of sun-block creams for children in Western countries reduces skin synthesis of vitamin D and may contribute to low levels. Recommendations for dietary intakes of children vary throughout the world. Some authorities make a recommendation but indicate that it may only apply to those without access to sunlight. Others make no general recommendations for children older than the age of 2 years except for those at risk of low skin synthesis.

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