Vitamin D: What Do Kids Really Need?

vitamin d

With Daylight Saving Time being over, we can expect less time with sun which is an excellent natural source of Vitamin D. Just in time Hallie Rich, Founder/CEO of alternaVites, offers a guest post giving us insight into Vitamin D, its benefits and how much children really need:

Vitamin D may be the trendiest vitamin at the moment, but we like to think of it as the LBD (little black dress) of supplements-something that is essential and should never go out of style.  It is an essential nutrient because it aids in calcium absorption, which helps support bone health. Without it, no matter how much calcium you consume, it will not be utilized as efficiently in the body. Additionally, vitamin D can help support many heart, circulatory and immune functions in the body.   It is also extremely important with muscle and nerve functions

Vitamin D is one vitamin that our bodies cannot produce on its own.  Our bodies need either sunlight, food sources or a supplement to convert to Vitamin D that it can use.  Since cold weather usually means less sunshine, receiving adequate amounts of Vitamin D during the winter months may be more difficult to achieve.  But don’t be fooled; even if you escape harsh winters and live in warm climates, if you limit how much you are out in the sun (and use – rightfully so – sunscreen), this can have an impact on how much Vitamin D your body will produce.

So, how does your child fare when it comes to Vitamin D? It’s very easy to find out.  Your child’s pediatrician or physician can run a simple blood test called 25(OH)D that will tell you.  From there, the doctor will be able to help make recommendations on next steps.    If your child does show a lower level of Vitamin D, you are not alone.  According to a recent study at Boston Children’s Hospital, 1 in 5 teenage boys and 1 in 4 teenage girls have low vitamin D levels in their blood.  Additionally, it is reported that approximately 7.6 million US children and teens are deficient and 50.8 million are insufficient or have inadequate vitamin D levels for bone and overall health.

As your doctor will tell you (and guide you), there are some easy ways to increase Vitamin D levels.  For example, look to incorporate foods rich in Vitamin D like fortified milk (including cows’, almond, soy, coconut, rice) or yogurt, salmon, mushrooms, cheese, eggs (specifically the yolk), and fortified breakfast cereals.  These are all nutritious foods and would be good to add to your child’s diet regardless.  Additionally, if your child still isn’t getting the recommended 400 – 600 IUs daily, supplementing your child’s diet with a Vitamin D product may also be beneficial.

Hallie Rich is Founder/CEO of alternaVites.

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