Vitamin D deficiency is more of a danger than most parents realize. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that supports strong bones but also aids in the absorption of many other nutrients. Children need this essential vitamin not only for bone development, but for every tissue in their body to function properly.
Vitamin D deficiency can cause many growth and health complications in children. For one, not getting enough of the nutrient can lead to rickets, a softening of the bones. This causes the bones to be easily injured and broken. Rickets also causes bow legs, stunted growth, and spine curvature. Vitamin D also helps prevent conditions such as diabetes, osteoporosis, periodontal disease, and many forms of cancer. A deficiency in vitamin D also compromises children’s immune systems. The body requires proper levels of vitamin D to help reduce the risk of infections, common colds, and the flu.
It is estimated that most children are Vitamin D deficient.
Some cases are much more severe than others. A doctor or pediatrician can tell you whether or not your child is vitamin D deficient enough to warrant concern. A good idea would be to ask your child’s pediatrician about it during your child’s next physical or doctor’s visit.
You can also take control of your child’s vitamin D intake naturally from the sun. After the skin is exposed to ultraviolet radiation from the sun’s natural rays, the skin transforms the radiation into vitamin D. Since this is how most children and adults receive vitamin D it is easy to see that this is also the reason why many children are deficient. Children are not spending adequate amounts of time in the sun. Only about 30 minutes of exposure is necessary in a day to get proper levels of vitamin D.
Children in colder weather climates are usually even more prone to deficiency. The skin does not synthesize vitamin D as effectively in the cold. Make sure your child is getting adequate amounts of sun exposure during the week. Take a walk in the park instead of going to the movies, go for a swim, or just let them play happily in the backyard.
Supplements are one of the easiest ways to help your child get proper amounts of vitamin D. Supplements come in many forms such as hard pills for adults and gummy vitamins for children. Go to your local pharmacy and see what types of vitamin D supplements they carry. If gummy vitamin D is not available in the store, you can order them from suppliers readily found on the internet.
There are few foods that are rich in vitamin D. However, including them in a well-balanced diet is still important. Some vitamin D rich foods are salmon, shrimp, and most wild-caught fish, eggs, milk, yogurt, seeds such as pumpkin and flax seed, and whole grain oatmeal. It is nearly impossible to get all the vitamin D children need from food, especially if they are picky eaters, so supplementing with natural sunshine or supplements is always a good idea.
It is hard for children to get too much vitamin D. Skin naturally stops making vitamin D when it receives enough of it from the sun. It is also hard to overdose on vitamin D through supplements, but they should still be taken with caution. Heed the dosage amount on the back of the supplement bottle or if there is any question over the proper dose you should ask a pharmacist or your doctor.
Researchers are discovering more and more benefits from vitamin D. This little known vitamin it a key element to our developing tissues, bone health, and strong immune system. Analyze your diet, lifestyle, and health to see if more vitamin D is what your family needs.