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The Role of Vitamin D in Children's Health

Vitamin D has several benefits for adults and children. From bone health to a robust immune system, vitamin D is vital for a child’s development. It’s essential to supply your child with a sufficient amount of this nutrient to grow strong and healthy.

Vitamin D and Children

Vitamin D is a nutrient responsible for increasing intestinal absorption of calcium, magnesium, and many others. Vitamin D builds strong bones, enhances the immune system, improves heart health, and helps manage blood sugar levels. It is not present naturally in many foods that children typically eat, such as egg yolk and salmon. Certain foods are fortified with vitamin D to supply adults and children with more vitamins in their diet.

Why Do Children Need Vitamin D?

Babies and children require sufficient amounts of vitamin D to:

  • Build strong bones and teeth
  • Develop a healthy immune system
  • Prevent rickets

Vitamin D is important for children as they grow and develop into a healthy adult. This nutrient helps children develop strong bones that can properly heal from injury. A healthy immune system will help the child ward off illnesses. Vitamin D also helps the body absorb calcium. With proper nutrition, your child can avoid developing rickets, a serious bone disease.

Vitamin D Deficiency in Children

Most people do not show any symptoms despite having a vitamin D deficiency. Common symptoms in children are listed below.

Vitamin D Deficiency in Children Symptoms:

  • Muscle weakness or cramps
  • Bone pain
  • Feeling tired or depressed
  • Rickets
  • Frequent bone fractures

Why Would a Child Have Low Vitamin D?

Premature babies and children with improper nutrition are at a higher risk for vitamin D deficiency. If your child is not absorbing enough vitamin D from foods or the sun, they may have low vitamin D levels. While rare, it is also possible that their body has problems using the nutrient properly. Genetic diseases can cause resistance to vitamin D. Contact your doctor to schedule a blood test to screen for a vitamin deficiency if you believe your child may have one.

Why is Vitamin D Deficiency Dangerous?

Without sufficient vitamin D in a child’s system, their bones and immune system will become frail. This weakness could result in more injuries and frequent sickness. A prolonged lack of vitamin D makes it difficult for the body to maintain proper nutrient levels in the bones, which can cause rickets. Rickets is one of the most concerning symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency in babies and children. It is a disease that causes weak, thin, and deformed bones. Symptoms include delayed growth, bow legs, and pain in the legs, spine, and pelvis. Treatment may include vitamin and calcium supplements, medications, and surgery.

How Can Your Child Get Vitamin D?

Certain foods fortified with vitamin D, such as yogurt, cereals, and fruit juices, can supply your child with a sufficient amount. This nutrient can also be absorbed into the body from the sun. If your child is not getting enough vitamin D from their diet, you can choose to give them vitamin D supplements to ensure they get enough in a day. If your child has a deficiency, your health care provider may prescribe vitamin D supplements for children.

How Much Vitamin D Does a Child Need?

Infants up to a year old can have 1,000 to 1,500 IU of vitamin D in a day. The recommended dosage for children 1 to 8 years old is 2,500 to 3,000 IU. Kids above the age of 9 can typically take up to 4,000 IU of vitamin D daily. These doses should include the amount of vitamin D they get from food and supplements if needed. Some kids might need more than the recommended dosage if they have specific medical problems, healing from bone surgery, or taking certain medicines.

Are There Any Risks in the Case of Overdose? 

Extremely high doses of dietary supplements can cause vitamin D toxicity. It is nearly impossible to get too much of the nutrients from food or the sun alone. Too much vitamin D causes the body to absorb an excessive amount of calcium. It is rare in children, but it may result in intoxicating symptoms. Nausea, vomiting, constipation, abdominal pain, dehydration, fever, and headache are among the many possible symptoms of a vitamin D overdose.

Are There Any Contraindications?

Kids with certain medical conditions are at a higher risk of vitamin D toxicity, such as Crohn’s disease. Specific medications may also interfere with vitamin D supplements. If your child has an allergic reaction to vitamin D or high levels of vitamin D or calcium, they should not take supplements.

Conclusion: How to Choose the Best Vitamin D for Your Child

Supplements with vitamin D for children are usually in the form of gummies or liquid drops to make it easier for them to consume. Before you add a supplement to your child’s daily diet, it's important to do proper research to provide them with the best option. Below are some factors to look for while choosing the best children’s vitamin D supplement.

  • Pediatric doctors’ recommendations: Discuss the best vitamin supplement with your health care provider before implementing them into your child’s diet. They will have good recommendations that will be appropriate for your child’s medical conditions if any.
  • Ingredients: Many products contain added sugars and artificial colors or flavorings you may want to avoid.
  • Form of vitamin D: Vitamin D supplements contain either vitamin D2 or vitamin D3. Although both forms increase vitamin D levels, vitamin D3 can increase levels considerably.
  • Dose: Choose a product with the appropriate vitamin D dose for your child’s needs.
  • Quality: Search for supplements that are tested by trustworthy third-party organizations for quality, purity, and accuracy.

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient in your child’s diet that will help them grow strong bones, protect their immune system from illnesses, and prevent rickets. Improper nutrition is the likely cause of low vitamin D levels in children. They also may not be getting enough sunlight, as adults usually get more sun exposure than young children and babies. Through the right foods and vitamin supplements, you can supply your child with the nutrients they need to grow strong and healthy.


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