Experts Suggests How Children Can Get Vitamin D

By June 29, 2018

According to experts, there are three ways children can get Vitamin D that they need through sunlight exposure, diet and supplements.

Dr. Megan Moreno of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison said: "Vitamin D is sometimes misunderstood and underappreciated, especially when it works as a silent partner with calcium".

Current guidelines recommend that infants under 12 months get 400 international units of vitamin D daily from all sources and that children and adolescents get 600 IU daily. For infants who are fully or partially breastfed, daily vitamin D supplementation is recommended until the child is weaned and drinking fortified milk.

Foods rich in vitamin D include:

  • Fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon.
  • Foods fortified with vitamin D, like some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals.
  • Beef liver
  • Cheese
  • Egg yolks
  • Mushrooms
  • Tofu
  • Oatmeal

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a central role in many components of health. It stands out from other vitamins because your body is able to make most of what you need through exposure to sunlight, which is why it’s often dubbed the “sunshine vitamin.” It’s also unique in that it actually acts as a steroid hormone rather than just a vitamin in the body and is involved in everything from weight management to bone health.

When you consume vitamin D, it undergoes a two-step process to convert it into its active form. First, it’s made into its storage form 25(OH)D (or calcidiol) in the liver. Next, it’s converted into its active form, 1,25(OH)2D, in the kidneys. From there, it works by communicating with the cells to control a multitude of functions in the body, from altering calcium absorption to boosting immune health.

A third option for getting vitamin D is taking a supplement. Although daily multivitamins aren't recommended as necessary for children, Moreno writes, supplementing with vitamin D could help those who don't get it through food or sun exposure. These supplements are often available as liquids, chewable or pills, and some have both calcium and vitamin D.

"Balancing health recommendations can be really tricky for families," she said. "We create these pages so parents can receive the best information possible to make these choices."

Lower levels of vitamin D in kids could be a factor in diabetes, for instance, said Dr Majid Aminzadeh of Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences in Iran, who wasn't involved with this patient resource

"Besides its role in calcium homeostasis, vitamin D has an important immune-modulation effect," said Aminzadeh, a pediatric endocrinologist who recently published a study of vitamin D status in diabetic children. "However, its role in autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes is under discussion."

Vitamin D deficiency can also lead to weak or soft bones in children. It can lead to a rare but serious condition called rickets, which causes children's legs to appear bowlegged.

Reuters Health, Channel NewsAsia, 8 June 2018

Last modified on Friday, 29 June 2018 21:00