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Vitamin D and Calcium for Good Bone Health


Vitamin D plays an essential part in helping children develop strong bones. Vitamin D (along with calcium) also plays a part in regulating various bodily functions. Proper Vitamin D intake is important not only for bone health, but also for preventing broken bones (fractures), protecting the body from developing autoimmune diseases, and decreasing the risk for certain cancers long term. 

Vitamin D 

While all vitamins are important, Vitamin D is the most important vitamin for bone health. Your child’s body makes Vitamin D when sunlight meets their skin. This process, however, does not produce enough Vitamin D for good bone health. Even if you live in a very sunny area, your child may still not get enough Vitamin D! The rest of the necessary Vitamin D for good bone health must come from your child’s diet.
So how much Vitamin D are you supposed to give your child in one day? The first thing to know is that Vitamin D is measured in “International Units”, which is shortened to “IU”. Current recommendations for Vitamin D in the diet include:  

Age Recommended Daily Vitamin D Intake
Birth to 12 months 400 IU
12 months to 18 years old 600 IU

Based on the 2011 Institute of Medicine (IOM) Report
Infants who are only breastfed are at a high risk for not receiving enough Vitamin D. We are not saying that you should not breastfeed your baby! But, we do know that breast milk does not contain all the Vitamin D that your baby needs. Therefore, the recommendation is to give your baby Vitamin D in addition to the breast milk as advised by your pediatrician.
For children eating regular food, there is still a risk of your child not receiving enough Vitamin D. This is true even if your child eats dairy products like milk and yogurt. Many foods fortified with Vitamin D do not provide enough Vitamin D to meet the recommended amounts in the table above. Therefore, you may need to supplement your child’s diet with Vitamin D as advised by your pediatrician.


It is impossible to talk about Vitamin D without also talking about a very important mineral in your body called calcium. Almost 99% of the calcium in your body lives inside of your bones. Calcium is very important to bone health. If your child has very low calcium levels their bones might break or fracture more easily than children with normal calcium levels. More importantly, if your child has normal calcium levels throughout childhood, they have a higher chance of having stronger bones as adults.
You can make sure your child has strong bones by keeping them active through play and exercise. You can also get more calcium in your child’s body by feeding them green leafy vegetables and dairy products. Look for food at your grocery store that has calcium “added in”. Below is a table showing how much calcium your child should be receiving every day. Calcium is measured in “milligrams” which is abbreviated to “mg”.

Age Recommended Daily Calcium Intake
Birth to 6 months 200 mg
6 months to 12 months 260 mg
1 year to 3 years 700 mg
4 years to 8 years 1,000 mg
9 years to 18 years 1,300 mg

Based on the 2011 Institute of Medicine (IOM) Report
Remember, if your child receives the recommended amount of Vitamin D and calcium, you are making sure their bones will be strong enough to last them well into adulthood!