Vitamin D For Kids
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not always advocate for vitamin supplements. However, vitamin D is one that it does suggest giving your kids. So, you may be wondering why vitamin D for kids is a good idea. What makes vitamin D so important? Today, let’s take a closer look at this vitamin, as well as supplements and natural sources.
Why is Vitamin D For Kids So Important?
Since this blog focuses on children, we’ll look specifically at vitamin D for kids. Really though, this vitamin benefits us at any age. For one, it seems to lower the risk of premature births.
Additionally, it is known to play a vital role in keeping our bones healthy and strong. Calcium is well known for its ability to keep our bones healthy. However, according to some research, it is vitamin D that actually makes it possible for calcium to be absorbed into the body. Vitamin D has also been linked to mental health, immune response and disease prevention.
Recognizing Vitamin D Deficiency
In some cases, a vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets. This is a bone-softening disease seen in some infants. Usually, it is not always apparent when someone has a vitamin D deficiency. Often, there aren’t even any obvious symptoms. That said, according to Healthychildren.org, a website by the AAP, deficiency is still a concern:
Because of lifestyle changes and sunscreen use, about 42% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D. Among children between 1 to 11 years old, an estimated 15% have vitamin D deficiency. And researchers have found that 17% of adolescents and 32% of young adults were deficient in vitamin D.
Vitamin D deficiencies can also show in the form of aches, fractures and muscle weakness. To know for sure, you can ask your doctor to perform a blood test to test vitamin D levels, or you can administer an at-home test.
Food and Sun: Natural Sources of Vitamin D
Food is one way to increase the amount of vitamin D your child is getting in their system. Unfortunately, there aren’t many foods that naturally rich with vitamin D. Some foods to consider include eggs, shiitake mushrooms and some fish like salmon, canned sardines, herring, and canned tuna. Likewise, foods that are fortified with vitamin D include milk, yogurt, cereals, and orange juice.
Sunlight is necessary for the production of vitamin D in our bodies. For this reason, it is good to have exposure to it. That said, too much sun can result in burns and a risk of skin cancer later in life. It is still essential that you limit your child’s time in the sun. In previous blog posts, we’ve addressed the importance of this, and of wearing sunscreen. Of course, protecting yourself from the sun means that you sometimes don’t get enough of that vitamin D.
Vitamin D Supplements
By now, we’ve established that it’s quite possible to not get enough vitamin D from food or sun. As such, we should address the use of supplements to ensure the proper amount of vitamin D for kids.
The recommended quantity of vitamin D for kids, according to the AAP, increases with age. Babies younger than a year old should receive 400 IU each day. After that, 600 IU is appropriate. For young children, the vitamin should be given in drop form.
These recommendations apply to breastfed babies as well; breast milk does not have enough vitamin D. Formula-fed babies should also be given supplements unless the formula includes a vitamin D supplement.
As always, you should always consult with your child’s pediatrician on any medical decisions, including vitamins and supplements. Of course, all pills and medicines should be kept in a locked cabinet and kept out of reach from children.