Vitamins and minerals are the fuel of a proper functioning body. There are many vitamins that the body needs and each one of them has a specific role to play to keep the body healthy. Vitamin D is one such nutrient that the body needs in small amounts to function and stay healthy. It helps the body use calcium and phosphorus to make strong bones and teeth. It has the ability to dissolve in fats and oils.
It is found in fatty fish, egg yolks, and dairy products. Skin exposed to sunshine can also make vitamin D. Not getting enough vitamin D can cause a bone disease called rickets.
Why is Vitamin D Important for Kids?
Made in the body from exposure to sunlight, vitamin D plays an important role in bone health along with calcium. Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium and phosphorus and helps deposit these minerals in bones and teeth making them stronger and healthier.
The fortification of cow’s milk with vitamin D has greatly reduced the risk of its deficiency in children. However, the rising consumption of juice and soft drinks in place of milk along with less play time outside in sunlight is increasing the risk of deficiency among kids, which can lead to rickets or defective bone growth.
Children older than 1 year need 600 IU of vitamin D every day. Make sure your child is getting enough vitamin D by including fortified milk with meals. For example, one cup of fortified 1-percent milk contains around 100 IU. Fish, such as salmon, mackerel and tuna, as well as egg yolks, and fortified breakfast cereals also contain vitamin D.
There are three easy ways to get vitamin D for growing kids:
Food Sources of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is found in very few foods. Sources include fatty fish like wild-caught mackerel, salmon, and tuna. Vitamin D is added to milk and other dairy products, orange juice, soymilk, and fortified cereals.
Check the food label to see if vitamin D has been added to a particular product. One eight-ounce serving of milk usually has 25% of the daily value (DV) of vitamin D. The DV is based on a total daily intake of 400 IU of vitamin D. So, a serving of milk with 25% of the DV of vitamin D contains 100 IU.
It is very difficult to get all the vitamin D you need from food alone. Most people must take vitamin D supplements to get enough intake to support bone health.
Few foods contain vitamin D naturally. Because of this, some foods are fortified. This means that vitamin D has been added. Foods that contain vitamin D include:
- egg yolk
- milk (fortified)
- cereal (fortified)
- yogurt (fortified)
- orange juice (fortified)
Vitamin D Supplements for Kids
If you aren’t getting enough vitamin D from sunlight and food, consider taking a supplement after consulting with your healthcare professional. Before adding a vitamin D supplement to your diet, check to see if any of the other supplements, multivitamins, or medications your child already takes contain vitamin D. Many calcium supplements also contain vitamin D.
There are two types of vitamin D supplements. They are vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Both types are good for bone health.
Vitamin D supplements can be taken with or without food and the full amount can be taken at one time. While your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium, you do not need to take vitamin D at the same time as a calcium supplement. If you need help choosing a vitamin D supplement, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist to recommend one suitable for children.
Common Factors for Deficiency of Vitamin D
Many factors can affect your ability to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D through the sun alone. These factors include:
- Being in an area with high pollution
- Using sunscreen
- Spending more time indoors
- Living in big cities where buildings block sunlight
- Having darker skin. (The higher the levels of melanin, the less vitamin D the skin can absorb.)
These factors contribute to vitamin D deficiency in an increasing number of people. That’s why it’s important to get some of your vitamin D from sources besides sunlight.
Since the pandemic, kids have been staying indoors for over a year which reduced their chances of gaining vitamin D from natural sunlight. It is an important vitamin for your child and you can provide vitamin D to your child through food and supplements like syrup or tablets.
Growing kids need it in abundance as their bones are developing rapidly at this stage especially during toddlerhood. Make sure your children intake all the necessary nutrients and vitamins in their daily diet and spend at least an hour a day indulging in some kind of physical activity outside.
We hope this article has helped you gain everything required to know about vitamin D and its importance for children.