Vitamin D For Kids: Its Importance And How Much They Need
Vitamin D (calciferol), also referred to as the sunshine vitamin, is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for the growth, development, and survival of all individuals at various ages.
The importance of vitamin D for children and adolescents deserves special attention, because of its role in bone mineralization.
According to experts, children between the ages of three and eighteen should get 600 IU (15mcg) of vitamin D daily.
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This requirement can be met by eating a balanced diet that includes animal foods and getting enough sunlight.
However, many children have a vitamin D deficiency or deficiency, which puts them at risk for long-term health complications.
So, how do parents make sure their children and teens get enough vitamin D
Why Do Children Need Vitamin D?
Vitamin D has several functions in the body. Here are some reasons why children need vitamin D.
Vitamin D encourages the retention and absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the body.
In combination with calcium, vitamin D helps maintain bone mass. Children who receive insufficient vitamin D and phosphorus in their diet are at risk for weaker bones.
Research shows that vitamin D deficiency often leads to infections and increases the risk of autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Therefore, maintaining vitamin D levels in the body is very important for your child to fight infection, ward off disease, and maintain optimal health.
Research highlights that vitamin D regulates the production of adrenaline, non-adrenaline, and dopamine in the brain. If a child has a chronic vitamin D deficiency, these hormones don't work properly, leading to mental health problems, such as depression.
Additionally, “Vitamin D has an important role in brain development and impacts learning, social development, attention and more.
The brain has many receptors for vitamin D that contribute to neural messages in the body and have been shown to be connected to mental health symptoms in people of all ages,” says Courtney Bliss, pediatric dietitian and founder of Feeding Bliss.
Vitamin D plays an important role in several biological processes and reduces the production of inflammatory substances. Clinical studies show that chronic vitamin D deficiency causes inflammation, which can lead to cell damage and also impact DNA over time.
In addition, vitamin D modulates several physiological processes, such as cell proliferation (increase in cell number) and differentiation, aids in nutrient metabolism, and facilitates proper nervous system and muscle function.
Source of Vitamin D
Children can get their daily dose of vitamin D from sun exposure and foods and drinks of animal origin.
Children can get 80% of their active vitamin D needs from sun exposure.
Therefore, spending 10 to 15 minutes in the sun with bare hands and feet several times a week can meet the vitamin D requirement of most children.
However, the amount of vitamin D that will develop in a child depends on several additional factors, such as time of day, use of sunscreen, and skin color. So, relying on sun exposure for a child's daily vitamin D needs is not recommended.
Note: Experts recommend staying out of the sun for a long time to prevent its bad effects. When in the sun for a long time, children should be encouraged to wear sunscreen and take sun safety tips.
Food and Drink
A balanced diet containing a variety of vitamin D-rich foods, such as low-fat milk, eggs, and fatty fish (salmon and tuna), can provide children with sufficient vitamin D.
Apart from that, some other foods that can provide your child with vitamin D are fortified cereals and bars, fortified cooking oil, and mushrooms.
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