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Why Kids Need Vitamin D Supplementation

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for people of all ages. It helps us absorb calcium in order to grow strong bones. Since most of this growth takes place when we’re young, it’s important that children receive sufficient amounts of Vitamin D. Without it, children may develop rickets (soft bones) or be at risk for having brittle bones when they’re adults.  

How We Get Vitamin D 

Exposing our skin to the sun causes our bodies to produce vitamin D. This is the primary means of obtaining vitamin D, but be careful to limit sun exposure and protect yourself with sunscreen. Food contains vitamin D, but unless it is fortified, the amount of vitamin D in foods and beverages is small. Vitamins and supplements can make up for a lack of vitamin D in our diet. 

Breastfeeding and Vitamin D 

Breastfeeding is an incredibly beneficial way to feed your newborn. It helps the mother recover and bond with her baby, and breastmilk contains a host of nutrients and immunity-boosting goodness. However, unlike formula, breast milk is not fortified with Vitamin D. That’s why we often recommend an over-the-counter vitamin D supplement for babies who are breastfed. 

Vitamin D Fortified Milk 

Babies need the nutrients present in breast milk or formula during the first year of life. After 12 months, you may introduce cow’s milk. Milk naturally contains calcium and is fortified with Vitamin D. In fact, many juices are also fortified with Vitamin D, but since juices contain a lot of sugar, try to get it from milk instead.  

How Skin Color Affects Vitamin D 

People with darker skin have more natural protection against UV rays than people with pale skin. This is no excuse to not wear sunscreen, because you can still get burned or develop skin cancer from too much sun exposure, regardless of skin color. When it comes to Vitamin D, darker skin’s ability to block UV rays prevents the body from producing vitamin D via sunlight absorption. So, children with darker skin are more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency than children with lighter skin. 

How Vitamin D Affects Obesity 

Researchers have discovered a correlation between childhood obesity and vitamin D deficiency. The cause of this link is unknown and still under investigation. Children with a higher BMI may need additional supplementation.  

Ask your pediatrician about vitamins that are safe for kids, and right for your child’s individual needs. 

Posted in Blog on January 9th, 2018