Southern California Integrative Wellness Center
Vitamin D is sometimes known as the “sunshine vitamin” because, unlike most other vitamins, we generally don’t acquire it through the food we eat but from the time we spend in the sun.
With so much of our time spent indoors, especially during cold weather months, it’s no wonder that vitamin D deficiency is very common in the US. About ten percent of children have a measurable vitamin D deficiency. What’s more, up to sixty percent of children may not be technically deficient but still have less-than-optimal levels of the vitamin.
Why is Vitamin D Important?
Everyone needs adequate amounts of vitamin D for good health, and that includes children. The human body is a wonderfully complex organism and its systems all work together to support life and health. A deficiency of one nutrient can have a domino effect on other systems, and that is very much the case with vitamin D.
Vitamin D is required for calcium absorption and to support the development of an overall healthy body. In children, insufficient vitamin D can lead to issues with bones, organs, and other bodily systems, as well as affect their metabolism. In extreme cases, it can lead to weak muscles, bone fractures, and rickets.
How to Get Enough Vitamin D
As mentioned, the “sunshine vitamin” doesn’t occur naturally in many foods, so time outdoors in the sunlight is the best way to get it. In the summer, just a few minutes out in the sun will provide enough vitamin D, and in the winter, that time increases to about three hours per week.
However, if you live in an area that doesn’t get much sun or if you have to avoid being in the sun for other reasons, then this is easier said than done. Children who have certain health conditions (cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, and those who have had bone surgeries) may also have higher-than-average requirements for generating vitamin D.
The first step is to talk to your doctor about what you can do to make sure your child is getting adequate vitamin D. The ideal amount for children over the age of one is 600 to 1,000 IU per day. Vitamin D is available in supplement form, and for picky eaters, it can be mixed into your child’s food just like other medicines.
It’s also essential to get your child screened for a vitamin D deficiency so that if there is an issue, it can be caught and addressed. The good news is, this deficiency is usually very simple to correct. Contact the office of Dr. Ed, pediatrician in Los Angeles, if you have any further questions.