Sunshine is good, according to new guidelines set by the Australian and New Zealand Bone and Mineral Society and Osteoporosis Australia (ANZBMS).
ANZBMS put together a working group to reevaluate and redraft a position statement on vitamin D, specifically for adolescents and children. They previously released a statement in 2006. Their new guidelines were based on a systematic review of literature stored in the MEDLINE database between 1946 and July 2011.
In their position statement, ANZBMS recognized sunlight as “the most important source of vitamin D,” noting that it can provide up to 90% of vitamin D requirements if sought after adequately. They recommended that adults and pregnant women seek moderate sun exposure and be careful not to burn. They also encouraged general physical outdoor activity.
However, ANZBMS did not recommend moderate sun exposure for children and adolescents, carefully noting that those under 18 should avoid burning and use protective measures to do so, like use of clothing and shade.
For vitamin D levels, they recommended a level of over 20 ng/ml (50 nmol/l). Since levels drop in the wintertime, the working group recommended that levels may need to be at least as high as 24-28 ng/ml (60-70 nmol/l) in the summer to ensure levels over 20 ng/ml in the winter.
Have a child or adolescent with vitamin D deficiency? The ANZBMS also released treatment guidelines. For those aged 1-18 years old, the working group recommended deficiency be treated with 1,000-2,000 IU/day for 3-6 months. For those under 12 months old, they recommended the use of 1,000 IU/day for severe deficiency and 400 IU/day for mild deficiency for three months. They also recommended a “maintenance” dose of 400 IU for all ages under 18, for those that are not deficient.
The new position statement is intended for primary care providers and specialists involved in the care of children and pregnant women.