Vitamin D or the ‘sunshine vitamin’ is abundantly available through food and sun exposure. However, lifestyle changes are causing D Vitamin deficiency in kids; experts call it a silent epidemic.
Vitamin D maintains calcium and phosphate levels in our bodies, thus keeping our bones, muscles, and teeth healthy. However, its deficiency is prevalent worldwide making it one of the most-talked about vitamins. This is despite the many studies carried out and various dietary recommendations being made to address the deficiency.
A huge chunk of the population – from newborn babies to the elderly, and many others in between do not get their daily fix of this essential nutrient. Especially in the Pandemic, the issue was faced by several people. Vitamin D deficiency in children causes bone and muscle pain, and extreme deficiency is known to cause rickets and osteomalacia. The researchers call it a silent epidemic that is the most under-diagnosed and under-treated nutritional deficiency in the world.
Vitamin D Deficiency In Kids
Kids younger than one year require 400 IU (International Units) of vitamin D per day. While kids above one year need 600 IU of the vitamin per day. Vitamin D in kids helps build strong bones. It also helps in quick bone recovery post-injury or surgery. Kids are generally vulnerable to its deficiency and hence parents must make sure kids get enough of it.
Children can get the vitamin naturally in the following ways:
The sun is one of the best sources for getting the vitamin. Sun rays are best absorbed when the sun is at the highest point in the sky. Thus the optimal hours for skin exposure are early in the morning. Only a short amount of time in the sun is required for the body to get all the vitamins for the day. The sun’s ultraviolet B helps in calcium absorption; one of the main building blocks for the bones.
Since too much sun can also damage the skin and lead to sunburn, you can plan simple 15 – 30 minutes activities with your kids. These could include a small walk, going to the park, or gardening. The activities will ensure your kids get enough vitamins for the day. Make sure the child stays safe in the sun and apply sunscreen!
Vitamin D is naturally available in very few foods. It is found mostly in fish oils, fatty fish, and egg yolk. There are also baby formula, milk, juice, yogurt, cereal, and edible oils available in the market which are fortified with vitamin D.
Mushrooms are the only plant food in which the vitamin is naturally present. You can also add mushrooms to a kid’s diet. For instance in curries, pizzas, and vegetable rolls.
Despite the above natural sources, if your kid still lacks the vitamin then it is recommended to give kids supplements containing vitamin D. These come in various forms such as gummies, pills, liquids, and chewable. However, you must first consult your physician before starting your child on supplements.