Critically Ill Children Deficient in Vitamin D

Posted by Tyler J. Arsenault B.Sc (Nutrition) on 2017 Nov 9th

If you haven’t yet heard about the dramatic health-promoting effects of vitamin D then welcome to planet Earth. Enjoy your stay!

One of the latest news making stories has been surrounding a large study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics and examined the relationship between critically ill children and their vitamin D status. Vitamin D has been the centre of a whirlwind of massive research over the last decade and it has evolved from a poorly recognized vitamin that’s only use was to help prevent rickets, to a mega-vitamin that significantly lowers the risk of major diseases including cancer and heart disease. A good portion of vitamin D’s health effects is related to its drastically wide range of effects on the immune system. 

In this particular study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, 511 severely or critically ill children who were admitted to the ICU over a 12 month period had their serum (blood) vitamin D levels analyzed and compared with the normal healthy population. As hypothesized by the authors of the study, the results were astonishing and yet just as predicted: nearly half of the children admitted to the ICU were vitamin D deficient AND the greater the degree of vitamin D deficiency, the longer the hospital admission times.

While various health authorities have a wide range of safe dosage ranges for children, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report in late 2010 that recommended a safe upper limit daily intake of 3,000IU for children less than 9 years of age and 4,000IU for children between 9 and 12 years of age. After 12 years, 10,000IU per day is considered safe based on long-term toxicity studies. As expected, estimates by Health Canada are far more conservative, with typical dosages for kids vitamin D at 400IU per serving and 1000IU per serving for adults.

We give our child (soon to be children) a generous dose of vitamin D every morning; the evidence is just too convincing to do otherwise.

Pediatrics Vol. 130 No. 3 September 1, 2012
pp. 421 -428
(doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-3328)