Unfortunately, vitamin D is one of the more difficult vitamins to come by naturally. It occurs in small amounts in fish, beef liver, and egg yolk, and in higher amounts in fortified dairy products. Doctors recommend getting our daily dose through exposure to sunlight, however, the risk of skin cancer has made parents wary of sun exposure. Additionally, common food sensitivities to dairy make supplementation necessary for many children.
In 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that the previously recommended dose of 200 international units be doubled to 400 ius to address the common deficiency of this essential nutrient. If you are thinking of supplements for your child, here are some considerations that may help you decide.
If Sun-Time Is Limited, Or Too High Risk
In cooler, northern regions, and at times of year when sunlight levels vary, your child may not be exposed to enough sunlight to produce sufficient levels. Even in climates where sunlight is consistent, some are sensitive to the sun or spend much of their time indoors. Parents who use sunblock may be preventing exposure to harmful UV rays, but sunscreens also inhibit natural production of vitamin D in the skin. If your child is not getting 10-15 minutes of sun exposure every day, it may be wise to consider a supplement.
If Your Child Has a Milk Sensitivity Or Allergy
Milk allergies are one of the most common allergies, affecting 1% of pre-school age and 0.1% of school age kids. Fortified dairy products are the best food source, followed by some meat, fish, and egg yolk, but in much smaller amounts. If your son or daughter is unable to drink milk, eat cheese, or include yogurt in her diet, a deficiency is likely. Because calcium is also so important to healthy bone and teeth development, check with your pediatrician for a multivitamin that will address both requirements.
If Immunity To Colds And Flus Is Low
Little ones are exposed to numerous viruses and bacteria in daycare centers and schools each day, and frequently pick up colds and infections from exposure to germs. However, if it seems your son or daughter seems to catch every bug that goes around, a deficiency may be impacting her immune system. Recent research shows that supplements can lower the risk of infections. It is thought that a protein that eliminates bacteria is increased with higher levels of vitamin D — an excellent reason to make sure your little one gets enough.
For 50% Of Children, Vitamin D Deficiency Is A Reality
It is estimated that nearly half of children are not getting enough vitamin D. In extreme cases where children are deficient they may develop rickets, a bone disease that leads to softening of the bones. Unhealthy bone development in childhood can also lead to osteoporosis in adulthood, and doctors recommend that adults take 600 international units a day (with adults over the age of 70 increasing their intake to 800 ius). If you suspect your child is one of the 50% not getting her recommended daily dose, speak with your pediatrician about which children vitamin D supplement is recommended for her age.