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Information on the latest vitamin D news and research.

Find out more information on deficiency, supplementation, sun exposure, and how vitamin D relates to your health.

Can schoolchildren adhere to taking vitamin D?

Is it feasible to get schoolchildren to adhere to taking vitamin D supplements? What kind of beliefs and attitudes toward vitamin D might lead to better adherence?

New research published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics looked at these very questions.

Researchers enrolled children from schools in Boston aged 9 to 15 years old. The children were given a bottle of 100 vitamin D pills, either containing 600, 1,000 or 2,000 IU per pill depending on their age. The children were instructed to take one pill per day and to bring back the supplement bottle with the remaining pills after three months. The researchers used the remaining pills to gauge adherence to taking vitamin D.

After three months, the children and their parents took separate questionnaires on their beliefs on vitamin D. The researchers wanted to see how compliant the children were in taking vitamin D, and they also wanted to see if their or their parents’ beliefs on vitamin D correlated at all with their compliance.

As to general beliefs on vitamin D, here is what they found:

  • 58% of parents believed vitamin D was important for bone and heart health, while only 35% of children believed that.
  • A relatively low percentage of parents and children (39% and 36%, respectively) believed vitamin D was important for non-condition-specific reasons, like strength and energy.
  • Children whose mothers had post-secondary education were 1.8 times more likely to believe that vitamin D was important for condition-specific health. There was no similar correlation for strength and energy.

As to the relationship between beliefs and adherence to taking vitamin D, here is what they found:

  • General adherence to taking vitamin D was good. This means that in the school setting, if children are instructed to take vitamin D, they likely will.
  • If the child’s parents took vitamin D, they were more likely to adhere to taking vitamin D daily.
  • If the parents believed that vitamin D was important for strength and energy, children were less likely to take vitamin D. The belief that vitamin D is important for strength and energy probably reflects a general lack of knowledge of vitamin D, because of the somewhat vagueness of the term “strength and energy.” Although I’m speculating, the general lack of knowledge of vitamin D could lead to decreased belief that it’s important to take, thus leading to lower adherence.
  • Also, as you might guess, the more involved the parent was in making sure their child took their daily vitamin D supplement, the better the adherence was in general.

The researchers concluded,

“Adherence to daily vitamin D supplement use in this school based randomized trial was high. It was higher when parents reported taking a vitamin D containing supplement and when responsibility for administering the vitamin was shared between both parents and children.”

Furthermore, they recommend,

“Promoting child supplement use through parent involvement and role modeling may be a practical solution for registered dietitians and other health professionals who are aiming to improve vitamin D adherence in youth.”

The interesting finding here is the higher compliance if the children or parents believed vitamin D was important for specific things, like bone and heart health, compared to vaguer reasons, like strength and energy. Although vitamin D is important for all four reasons, this study highlights that it is likely a better strategy to educate on how vitamin D is important for specific conditions, as opposed to generic reasons. Why? It leads to better adherence to taking vitamin D.


Au LE et al. Adherence to a Vitamin D Supplement Intervention in Urban Schoolchildren. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2013

  About: Brant Cebulla

Brant Cebulla was a staff member for the Vitamin D Council from May 2011 to April 2014. He has keen interests in nutrition and exercise.
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5 Responses to Can schoolchildren adhere to taking vitamin D?

  1. Davidclements says:

    I am giving my 12 year old daughter 60,000 iu per month rather than a daily dose. For a kid who is not taking any other vitamins, this is easier than a daily dose. I give her 12 5,000 iu caps in yogurt on “D-Day,” around the first of each month. We have skipped June through September.

  2. Ways to increase children taking vitamin D include
    1 – Initial and on-going education of the benefits (to children and parents)
    such as: printed, video, presentation followed by Q/A, online information and forum,
    2- Educate them about the benefits anticipated: fewer colds, less tooth decay, better academic performance, fewer growing pains, fewer ear infections, less asthma
    3 – Have competition between classrooms (different classrooms take different amounts)– and let classes notice the differences
    4- Having a larger dose pill which need only be taken weekly or monthly
    Along with calendar-associated memory aids
    5- Having the vitamin D incorporated into food eaten (optional fortification at school or home)
    6- Good tasting (e.g. gummy bear)
    7- Provide other forms – such as liquid: many children are uncomfortable with taking pills.

    More details at

  3. Rita and Misty says:

    Greetings, Hlahore@gmail,

    It would be interesting to take your above points #2 & #3 and develop a study, comparing demographically similar students at two different schools, one group supplementing with D, and the other no supplementation. To the extent it would be possible, and I am uncertain here, a comparison might be made by 25(OH)D level of both groups, supplementing and non-supplementing, as to attendance, academic performance, and behavioral issues, over the course of let us say two academic years….

    These are just my preliminary thoughts. This project would need to be fleshed out a bit more, I’m certain.

    However, I think this would seem to be a “fundable” study …although with the current government “shut down,” who knows?

  4. mbuck says:

    First and foremost, children should get plenty of sunshine when the sun is highest in the sky during summer months while playing and swimming, albeit less than adults, since their skin is more sensitive, all within parameters specified by skin color, genetic factors etc, and overseen by parents. I strongly favor the most natural method; i. e.; the method nature provides free to all. Sunlight provides additional benefits, both known and as yet unknown for the body.

    During winter months, supplementation ought to be supervised by parents with input from the family doctor along with a couple tests a year as a check.

    Sunlight, a good diet and exercise should be all that children need barring preexisting conditions.


    I’d consider 3 @5000 IU per week, or 1 every other day, if she were my daughter.

    The BioTech D3Plus 5000 IU also has the co-factors magnesium, K1, K2, Boron and Zinc. This brand yields 5000 IU per THREE capsules, so one cap is 1666 IU. So, one per day would total 55,533 IU per month.

    Skipping the summer months makes sense if she’s getting some solar noon sun several times a week.

    best regards,

  5. Hello all,
    I am happy to meet you.

    I am concerned with how Vitamin D is metabolized in the system especially in children as some individuals are fast metabolizers and some are slow.

    Can anyone comment on giving a bolus does of vitamin D as compared to daily doses? I know the 50,000 units is prescription.

    Further, if you look at my profile, I am an inventor in the beverage space and will be launching all natural, no chemical of any sort, GMO free, Vegan, excellent source of fiber drink sticks, for children first (only denoted by the packaging and marketing) AND they include Vitamin D.

    Thanks you Suzanne