Ensuring your kids get the right amount of Vitamin D as they’re growing will have short and long-term health benefits for them.
It’s often called the “sunshine” vitamin, due to the unique way we can absorb it from the sun.
Unfortunately, it takes a lot of sunshine to get the amount of Vitamin D we need.
Your children need enough Vitamin D to help with healthy growth and development through their childhood and teenage years.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- Why your kids need Vitamin D
- How much Vitamin D they need
- Best ways for kids to get Vitamin D
- How likely kids are to be Vitamin D deficient
- What happens if your child has too much Vitamin D
With that said, let’s jump straight into the article.
Why do Kids Need Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin and your kids need it to stay healthy.
It’s involved in many important biological processes, and is present in almost all immune cells.
Vitamin D is also essential for maintaining healthy mineral and bone metabolism because it helps the gut absorb calcium.
It has been linked to a whole host of other benefits, like:
- Regulating blood pressure
- Helping to maintain cardiovascular health
- Regulating insulin production and prevention against diabetes
- Protection against some types of cancer
- Positive impact on muscle strength
To sum it up: Vitamin D plays a vital role in our bodies, and if your kids are deficient, they’re at risk of unnecessary health complications.
But, how much Vitamin D do they need each day?
How Much Vitamin D Do Kids Need?
Naturally, the amount of Vitamin D your babies or kids need will depend on their age.
Vitamin D is measured in IU (International Units). In the table below, you’ll see how many IU your child needs per day, based on their age.
|Age||Recommended Amount per Day (IU)|
|0 – 12 months||400IU|
|1 – 13 years||600IU|
|14 – 18 years||600IU|
Source: National Institutes of Health
How Can Kids Get Vitamin D?
There are three main ways to get Vitamin D:
- From the sun
- From Vitamin D rich foods
- From supplements or multivitamins
Let’s take a look at which of these is the most effective way to get your Vitamin D, and why.
The main source of Vitamin D for most people is the sun, throughout the spring, summer, and fall months.
It’s important that we get time in the sun to absorb Vitamin D, as if the vitamin is produced in the skin, it may last twice as long as it would through a capsule or supplement.
There are factors to keep in mind that affect how much Vitamin D your kids can absorb through the sun.
If they have dark skin, they’ll absorb less than if they have pale skin.
If your kids wear sunscreen, they’ll absorb drastically less Vitamin D than if they don’t wear. In fact, wearing factor 30 sunscreen reduces Vitamin D3 synthesis by up to 95%.
You need to strike a careful balance, as too much sun can also be harmful for your children, even if they are getting Vitamin D from it.
Foods high in Vitamin D
Mushrooms are the only plant that naturally contain Vitamin D, because they can synthesize it from the sun.
There are a few foods that contain Vitamin D, however, it’s not that common. The best sources are fish and fortified foods.
Here are some foods rich in Vitamin D that your children can eat:
- Salmon contains 526 IU per 100g
- Egg yolks contain 218 IU per 100g
- Shiitake mushrooms contain 11 IU per 100g
Unlike other vitamins, D isn’t present in that many foods. You can find foods like cereals that are fortified with Vitamin D, but if your children are deficient, your doctor may consider supplements, as they’re an easier way to get their daily amount.
Vitamin D Supplements
Vitamin D supplementation is a common way for children to get their recommended daily amount.
You can find them as standalone supplements or as part of a multivitamin.
Are Children at Risk of Vitamin D Deficiency?
Just like adults, kids are at risk of Vitamin D deficiency. If they don’t get much sun, have skin with a dark pigment, or don’t eat enough Vitamin D rich foods, they are in an at-risk category.
There are a few signals that your child may be deficient in Vitamin D to look out for.
Common symptoms include:
If your child is exhibiting symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency, talk to your registered doctor. They will be able to provide the best advice on how you can help your child get enough.
What Happens if my Child Has Too Much Vitamin D?
Just as too little Vitamin D can be harmful, so can having too much. Although it’s rare, it’s potentially dangerous.
Excess Vitamin D raises blood calcium levels, which can lead to muscle weakness, hypertension, and gastrointestinal upset, among other symptoms.
In most cases that involve people having too much Vitamin D, the cause is due to having too much of a supplement in an attempt to correct a deficiency.
Make sure you stick to the guidelines and amount that your doctor recommends, and don’t give your children too much Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that kids need to help them stay healthy, and it helps them with muscle and bone health, helps regulate blood pressure, and may even help prevent the development of Type 1 diabetes.
We can absorb it through sunlight, but, as even the most active kids don’t spend all day outside, in many cases, supplementation is needed.
If you’re considering Vitamin D supplements, make sure to talk to a registered doctor and they’ll be able to tell you if your child needs it or not.