Vitamin D Considerations for Vegan Kids What does vitamin D do? Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vita- min that acts like a hormone. It helps maintain strong bones and teeth by regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, and it supports a healthy immune system. Studies have shown that ad- equate vitamin D levels may have a protective effect on the heart as well as a role in the prevention of certain cancers, depression, and Type 2 diabe- tes (1). How much does my child need? The American Academy of Pe- diatrics recommends that all breastfed infants and babies who consume less than 1 liter of formula per day should receive 400 IU of oral vita- min D supplementation daily (2). This is because vitamin D does not pass well through breast milk and many for- mulas may not contain ade- quate amounts. Kids over 12 months old who do not re- ceive regular sunlight expo- sure should get 600-1,000 IU of vitamin D per day (3). While it’s true that we can get the majority of nutrients we need from a well-planned plant-based diet, there are a few key nutri- ents that require special attention, and per- haps supplementation, to ensure we’re get- ting enough. One such nutrient is vitamin D, which is essential for growing children. Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD is a plant-based lifestyle strategist for families and founder of Chronic Planet. www.chronicplanet.net @chronicplanet 44 Raise Vegan SEPTEMBER 2018 A blood test to check your vitamin D levels (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D) can be ordered by your pediatri- cian. It can be helpful to get a baseline value so that you know whether your child’s current dietary habits are sufficient. If vitamin D levels are low, a pediatrician or reg- istered dietitian can provide recommendations for lifestyle adjustments. According to the Institute of Medicine, an adequate vitamin D level is 50 nmol/L or 20 ng/mL; it is not recommended to aim for levels higher than this (4).