- Dr. Megan Westbrook
Vitamin D in Kids
The Pacific Northwest is notorious for having cloudy, gray skies, especially in the fall and winter. When spring finally rolls around, most of us are ecstatic that the sun still exists! Indeed, it does, and the sun is actually one of the best ways to obtain the proper amount of vitamin D. The recommended value of vitamin D in an infant into childhood is 400-600 IU/day.
Vitamin D is important for everyone, especially your kids. The right amount of vitamin D in a child can help the body absorb calcium and phosphorus, which helps to build strong bones. You’ve probably heard of rickets – a disease that entails softening of the bones and is usually most common in the first two years of life; all due to low vitamin D. This vitamin can also help prevent chronic diseases later on in life. Problems with the immune system and cardiovascular disease are the big ones.
There are a few ways you can ensure your child has the proper amount of this super vitamin.
First of all, get outside! It’s springtime and the sun is shining! Find a family activity to do such as hiking or biking. The PNW has a plethora of areas to explore outside!
Another way to guarantee your kid has enough vitamin D is to give them proper nutrition.
Breastfeeding provides around 25 IU of vitamin D per liter (possibly less), so breastfeeding alone may not suffice. If you are breastfeeding, make sure YOU are getting enough of this vitamin, to help with your baby’s levels. Also, don’t be afraid to bring your baby outside for a few minutes of natural sunlight to help synthesize additional vitamin D in the body.
For older kids, there are three big sources of vitamin D: wild salmon, mackerel, and mushrooms. If you have picky eaters, a great way to supplement may be to add cod liver oil, another great source of vitamin D, to smoothies, salad dressings, or juice. You can also buy it flavored!
Supplementation is usually the last resort for obtaining proper amounts of vitamin D. Make sure you are fulfilling the first two listed above before choosing a supplement. These will usually come in either vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) or vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Nutritional doses don’t show any difference between the two, but, in higher doses, vitamin D2 has been shown to be less potent.
To sum up, vitamin D is a powerful way to ensure optimal health starting from the very first few days of life into adulthood and older age. Make sure your family is getting the right amount of this vitamin by enjoying the outdoors, eating the right sources of food, and supplementing if you have to.