Researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston have published a detailed review.

Their interest relates to the needs of vitamin D in the breastfeeding mother and her infant and child, but they also present a detailed and well-referenced review.

Some historical perspective

  • Rickets is identified as a major health problem for young children as people begin to leave rural farming communities for urban areas.
  • The exodus brought about lifestyle and environmental changes that limited sunlight exposure.
  • Rickets is characterized by deformities of the skeleton, coupled with generalized muscle weakness.

Early 19th century

  • Rickets was epidemic in northern Europe and in industrialized northern regions of the United States.


  • Dr. Andrew Sniadecki reported that lack of sun exposure could be the cause of rickets.


  • Fish liver oils discovered to heal rickets.


  • Vitamin D identified, and the link was made to rickets.


  • Vitamin D effects organ systems throughout the body down to the cellular level.
  • What was once thought to be a simple hormone affecting only bone and calcium metabolism, is recognized to be much more.
  • It’s a complex hormone that regulates calcium and the integrity of the immune system.
  • Vitamin D deficiency is linked to inflammatory and certain diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, tuberculosis, diabetes, and various cancers, to name a few.

The bottom line?
The authors conclude, “As new evidence points to serious consequences of chronic vitamin D deprivation,… we must establish normative guidelines for safe and effective vitamin D supplementation during lactation in both the lactating woman and her infant that address modern-day lifestyles. It is clear that at least in part, vitamin D does make the world go ‘round.” The latest vitamin D dosing recommendations from the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) are summarized here.

12/21/08 21:31 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.