Exposure to sunlight provides the best source of vitamin D. During most seasons, 10 to 15 minutes of exposure to the sun near midday is enough. However, if you're dark-skinned, if it's winter or if you live in northern latitudes, you might not be able to get enough vitamin D from sun exposure.
In addition, because of skin cancer concerns, infants and young children, especially, are warned to avoid direct sun or to always wear sunscreen and protective clothing.
To prevent rickets, make sure your child eats foods that contain vitamin D naturally — fatty fish, fish oil and egg yolks — or that have been fortified with vitamin D, such as:
- Infant formula
- Milk, but not foods made from milk, such as yogurt and cheese
- Orange juice
Check labels to determine the vitamin D content of fortified foods.
If you're pregnant, ask your doctor about taking vitamin D supplements.
Because human milk contains only a small amount of vitamin D, all breast-fed infants should receive 400 international units (IU) of oral vitamin D daily. The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends that breast-fed infants or those who drink less than 33.8 ounces (1 liter) of infant formula a day to take an oral vitamin D supplement.