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The ABCs of D

Vitamin D helps with bone growth and development. Nicknamed the sunshine vitamin, children get most of their vitamin D from sunlight. This vitamin can also be obtained in decent quantities from foods such as milk and cheese. Since babies and toddlers do drink milk, all parents have to ensure is that they get to play for a bit in the sunshine, right?

Well, read on…

Getting to know Vitamin D better

Vitamin D is a crucial nutrient for children’s good health and development and lack of it can lead to serious health complications. It functions as a hormone with many jobs in the body, including regulation of the immune system, insulin production, and cell growth. Vitamin D also helps the body absorb minerals like calcium and builds strong teeth and bones. A researcher and professor of medicine, physiology, and biophysics at Boston University School of Medicine, Michael F. Holick revealed that vitamin D deficiency can not only cause rickets (a disease that can lead to bone deformity and fractures), it can also keep growing children from reaching their genetically programmed height and peak bone mass.

Epidemiological evidence following researches and studies have also found that vitamin D may play a role in preventing some chronic diseases later in life, including those involving the immune and cardiovascular systems.

Breastfed babies and Vitamin D

All non-breastfed infants, as well as older children, who are consuming less than 32 ounces per day of vitamin D-fortified formula or milk, should receive a vitamin D supplement of 400 IU a day. Breastfed and partially breastfed infants should be supplemented with 400 IU a day of vitamin D beginning in the first few days of life

Is your little one getting enough?

Vitamin D can be produced naturally by the human body with the help of some direct sun exposure. Hence, clothing, sunscreen and sunblocks will be, in a way, blocking the skin from producing Vitamin D. Since experts have warned that UV radiation from the sun is the main cause of skin cancer, and that it’s hard to judge whether enough sunlight can be obtained to produce Vitamin D without increasing one’s risk of this cancer, parents should consider finding other ways to help their little ones get this vitamin such as through liquid or chewable supplements.

Dosage

Vitamin D can be harmful if taken in excessive amounts. The safe upper limit for infants up to 12 months old is 1,000 to 1,500 IU daily. Unlike Vitamin C, which isn’t stored in the body and where any excess is simply eliminated via urination, Vitamin D by contrast is stored in body tissue, so it’s best not to get more than the recommended dosage. To be safe, if you have a very young child, stick to the recommended 400 IUs you would find in most infant supplements. More than 400 IUs may be fine for an older child, but check with your child’s doctor to be sure.

Finding Vit-D Naturally

In addition to vitamin supplements, enriched foods can help increase your child’s vitamin D intake. Look for foods fortified with vitamin D such as milk, cereal, orange juice, yogurt, and some butters.

Vitamin D is found naturally in only a few foods – they include oily fish, beef liver, cheese, egg yolks, and some mushrooms. Oily (or fatty) fish are one of the best sources of the vitamin. For example, 3.5 ounces of cooked salmon offers approximately 360 IU (about 90 percent of your child’s daily recommended value) of vitamin D per serving. Other examples of oily fish include tuna, mackerel, trout, herring, sardines, kipper, carp and even anchovies!

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