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To D or Not to D

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In many areas of health, the messages we receive from the media can be conflicting and confusing. In particular, topics involving nutrition and supplements involve mixed messages. This reflects the difficulty in conducting good valid studies of nutrients and long-term consequences of deficiencies.

The sunshine vitamin Vitamin D has become the “fashionable” vitamin of our times. It’s known as the “sunshine vitamin” as our bodies require sunshine to convert it into a usable form. As Canadians, we get little sunshine from Thanksgiving to Easter and it’s thought that many diseases might be linked to vitamin D deficiency. Unfortunately, the jury is still out regarding the value of vitamin D in helping prevent or treat depression, cancer and MS. It is essential to bone health in adults and in children.

Essential to growth Breastfed infants require vitamin D for development and growth. Formula contains vitamin D but infants require at least 24 ounces of formula in a day to get adequate vitamin D. Babies who are receiving supplements of formula in small amounts while being mainly breastfed still require supplementation. The recommended amount of vitamin D is 400 IU a day.

Babies with darker skin are at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency. For babies living in northern communities (at the latitude of Edmonton or further north), the Canadian Pediatric Society suggests  800 IU a day.

For infants, the answer to the question of whether or not to use vitamin D or not is yes and this answer is backed by good evidence. For the rest of us, the jury is still out.

Dr. Bhooma Bhayana is a family physician in London and the mother of two young men and grandmother of one lovely princess! She continues to find wonder and enjoyment in family practice despite more than 30 years on the job!


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