Vitamin D is one vitamin I recommend often. Insufficient levels of vitamin D lave been linked to a wide range of chronic diseases, and most Americans have insufficient levels—two eye-opening facts that have made vitamin D the star vitamin of the last decade. From infants to the elderly, insufficient vitamin D levels are taking their toll. On the flip side, vitamin D supplementation, which is inexpensive and easy, has shown some pretty amazing health benefits that go far beyond bone health.

In a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers have built upon previous studies finding an association between higher vitamin D levels and reduced risk of respiratory infections such as cold and flu. To confirm these findings, researchers studied the effects of vitamin D-fortified milk on the prevention of cold and flu in children.

Almost 250 Mongolian children were enrolled in the study, and all of them were found to have low vitamin D levels. Half of the children were given milk fortified with 300 IU vitamin D, while the other half were given unfortified milk. In the children receiving fortified milk, vitamin D levels raised to 19 ng/mL (still considered low) up from only 7 ng/mL. The risk of developing cold or flu in those children was cut in half when compared to the children receiving unfortified milk. Considering the low dosage of vitamin D in the fortified milk, I can’t help but wonder what might have happened if the children received more vitamin D.

Unless you (or your children) are in the sun during peak hours of the day without sunscreen on a regular basis, you probably have insufficient levels. If you are not supplementing your children with vitamin D, please consider it. Here are recommendations from the Vitamin D Council.