Vitamin D for Kids: 3 Things Parents Should Know

vitamin D for kids

Looking to learn more about vitamin D for kids?

Vitamin D is necessary for children’s bones to develop strong and their immune systems to fight sickness.

Vitamin D is absorbed into the body through sun exposure and food consumption. Spending 15 to 30 minutes outside in the middle of the day in sunlight can stimulate the skin to produce all of the vitamin D your youngster requires. 

In fact, a child in a bathing suit can generate 10,000 to 20,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D in 15 to 30 minutes on a sunny summer day. Fortunately, a person’s body can’t “overdose” on vitamin D produced by the sun, thanks to a clever biological trick.

Vitamin D is abundant in foods such as salmon, sardines, tuna, cod liver oil, egg yolks, and shiitake mushrooms.

Numerous children do not appear to enjoy these vitamin D superfoods; fortunately, store-bought milk and many cereals and even orange juice are typically fortified with vitamin D. However, not all dairy products are fortified with vitamin D, so read the labels carefully.

When do kids’ vitamin D supplements come in handy?

It’s a good idea to give your child a vitamin D supplement for kids throughout the colder months, since there’s less sunlight.

Most children’s multivitamins include 400 IUs of vitamin D for kids, which is considered sufficient every day.

Obese children, children with dark skin, children who seldom go outside, or children who wear clothing that covers most of their skin may require vitamin D tablets to guarantee appropriate amounts of vitamin D all year.

Some drugs, such as anticonvulsants, and over-the-counter health supplements, such as St. John’s Wort, can disrupt the way our bodies absorb vitamin D. Certain disorders, such as celiac disease, might also impair vitamin D absorption.

Discuss your kid’s medical history and lifestyle with your GP, and inform them of any medications or herbal supplements your child is taking. Your child’s daily vitamin D need can then be determined by the GP.

There are hazards associated with children consuming too much vitamin D through supplements and food, including an increased risk of developing kidney stones. 

Parents must assess how much vitamin D their kid receives through fortified milk, other foods, and vitamin supplements to ensure that the overall quantity does not exceed the vitamin D dosage for kids : 

  • Infants require 100 to 250 IU per day.
  • 250 to 600 IU per day for children aged 1 to 8 years.
  • 400 IU per day for youngsters aged 9 and up

READ ALSO: 10+ Vitamin D Foods You Should Include in Your Diet

The Sunscreen Paradox

Parents understand the need of wearing sunscreen to protect their child’s skin from harmful sunburns, skin damage, and potential skin cancers. Sunscreen, on the other hand, can limit vitamin D synthesis by up to 95% depending on Sun Protection Factor (SPF).

kids vitamin d tablets

Should You Give Vitamin D to Your Kid?

“In truth, from the standpoint of vitamin D, this isn’t much of a concern,” says Michael A. Levine, MD, Director of the Center for Bone Health at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).

 “We normally recommend that parents give their children 10 to 15 minutes in the sun before applying sunscreen.”

This provides them with enough exposure to sunshine to satisfy their vitamin D requirements. Even after applying sunscreen, children continue to produce vitamin D, as most children — and adults, too — do not apply enough quantities of sunscreen before going outside in the sun.

Breastfed newborns require vitamin D supplementation since a typical mother’s breast milk does not provide enough vitamin D. 

The infant can be given 400 IU of vitamin D drops daily, or the mother can take 5,000 IU of vitamin D per day (half the safety level), which will strengthen her milk with adequate vitamin D for kids. This is referred to as “super milk”!

Although vitamin D is included in all conventional baby formulas, vitamin D supplements for babies is also suggested for formula-fed newborns. Most of these supplements are available as baby vitamin D drops that you can give to your baby directly, apply to a nipple while breastfeeding or add to their food.

Testing for Vitamin D Levels

A simple blood test that evaluates the primary circulating form of vitamin D, known as 25-hydroxyvitamin D or 25(OH)D, may quickly establish vitamin D status. Routine testing is not advised for all children, although some may benefit from a laboratory evaluation.

Although some laboratories indicate levels of 25(OH)D less than 30 ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter) as low, most pediatric bone experts concur that levels more than 20 ng/mL are acceptable for most children.

Long-term Benefits of Healthy Levels Vitamin D for Kids

Vitamin D has been linked to the prevention of some illnesses. Because nearly all of these research were conducted on adults, the findings may not be applicable to children.

Most research that found links between illness risk and low vitamin D levels have not been verified by well-designed clinical trials.

In certain situations, the inclusion of individuals who already had high levels of vitamin D has been ascribed to a lack of effect. In other cases, a lack of benefit has been attributed to the administration of insufficient vitamin D dosages.

Several studies have failed to show a link between vitamin D level and the risk of acquiring type 1 diabetes, the most prevalent type of diabetes in children. 

Furthermore, the concept that vitamin D supplementation might help prevent type 2 diabetes, which is more frequent in older children and adults, was recently debunked in a comprehensive adult trial.

A National Institutes of Health-funded research of 2,423 people published in June 2019 found that daily vitamin D supplementation did not prevent type 2 diabetes. 

In contrast, a more recent research released in 2020 looked at the aggregate effect of nine randomized clinical studies that investigated vitamin D supplements for kids were ineffective in preventing type 2 diabetes. 

A more recent study, published in 2020, looked at the aggregate effect of nine randomized clinical studies that assessed the potential of vitamin D supplementation to prevent progression from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes. 

There was no effect overall, but when just the trials that employed moderate to high dosages of supplementation (1000 IU/day) were evaluated, there was a slight 12 percent reduction in risk relative to placebo.

“These studies should be viewed with caution, not least since no children were included.” Overall, it’s unlikely that high-risk children — those with a sibling with type 1 diabetes or a parent with type 2 diabetes — would benefit from vitamin D supplements, according to Dr. Levine.

The greatest major advantage of vitamin D remains strong bones. The vitamin, on the other hand, is known to boost nervous system health, enhance defenses against infections, and may even benefit lung and heart health.

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