Do you think your children get enough vitamin D?  Think again! 
According to a study published in 2008, fifty-two percent of infants and
toddlers in the USA have vitamin D levels below optimal and 12% of them have
vitamin D deficiency [1].  Unfortunately, rickets, bowing of the legs
due to vitamin D deficiency, is not only a early childhood problem, new cases
in adolescents are being documented [2].  Vitamin D deficiency is more serious than it
was once thought to be.  Current studies
are reporting that vitamin D levels below optimal increase an individual’s risk
for infection, autoimmune diseases, some forms of cancer and type 2 diabetes [2].  This is a growing problem in the USA and many
other countries around the world; the good side is it is preventable.

In order to prevent vitamin D deficiency children need to
get enough vitamin D, easy enough.  But
what are good sources of vitamin D?  The
number one source of vitamin D is direct sunlight.  The skin makes vitamin D when exposed to UVB
light.  Fifteen to twenty minutes of
direct sunlight a day can be enough for the body to produce adequate amounts of
vitamin D, but unfortunately children spend about 93% of their day inside [2].
The seven percent they spent outside, they are smothered with sunscreen that
inhibits vitamin D synthesis. As for food sources of vitamin D, they are
limited.  Fatty fish, fish oils, liver
and fat from aquatic animals and eggs from chickens fed vitamin D supplements
are the few sources with any amount of naturally occurring vitamin D [2].  Fortunately there are fortified sources of
vitamin D like milk and recently some orange juices are being fortified.  Even with fortification infants especially
breastfed babies [1],
children and adolescents are not getting enough vitamin D.

In hopes of reaching optimal vitamin D level in children,
experts recommend that breastfed infants, children and adolescents take a
supplement with 400 IU’s of vitamin D daily [2].  Additionally, spring and summer are the
vitamin D making seasons; children should get 15 to 20 minutes of unprotected,
sunscreen free, exposure of sun daily. 
With adequate sun exposure first, consumption of fortified milk and
supplementation hopefully we can overcome vitamin D deficiency and all the tags
attached.

References:

1.            Gordon, C., et al., Prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among
healthy infants and toddlers.
Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent
Medicine, 2008. 162(6): p. 505.

2.            Wagner,
C. and F. Greer, Prevention of rickets
and vitamin D deficiency in infants, children, and adolescents.
Pediatrics,
2008. 122(5): p. 1142.

 

Pin It on Pinterest