THIS MORNING: Sunscreen vs. vitamin D

June 15, 2008 9:00:00 PM PDT
Investigators say a deadly fire in Queens -- was started by someone intentionally. That Sunday morning fire raced through an apartment building -- killing three people.Before Dominique Sullivan heads outside on warm, sunny days, her mom makes sure she wears lots of sunscreen.

While sunscreen helps to protect Dominique from the sun's harmful rays, it can also reduce the amount of vitamin D she gets naturally from sunlight.

"The more skin of your skin that's exposed, the more sunlight and vitamin D your body can make," Dr. Stephen Turner says.

Now, a new study out of Children's Hospital in Boston shows that 40 percent of American youngsters aren't getting enough vitamin D. The important vitamin helps the body to absorb calcium and build strong bones.

"Certainly they would be at risk for osteoporosis later on," says Dr. Turner.

But it's not just lack of sunlight. Dr. Stephen Turner, from Long Island College Hospital, says another factor for low levels of vitamin D is diet.

Many children don't drink enough cow or soy milk, which is fortified with vitamin D. And breast-fed babies also don't get enough vitamin D, as breast milk has low levels of the vitamin.

That's why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast-fed babies get a vitamin D supplement.

Now, back to that sunscreen. Make sure kids wear, it no matter what.

"The risk of skin cancer is a much greater get vitamin D in other ways," Dr. Turner says.

Seven On Call's Dr. Jay Adlersberg, Web produced by William King, Lakisha Bostick