Vitamin D is an important nutrient that helps children to absorb and retain calcium from the foods they eat. Vitamin D is vital for strong bones and the immune system.
The importance of vitamin D
Vitamin D works with calcium to help build strong bones and teeth and plays a vital role in the immune system and fighting infections.
The 3 sources of vitamin D
- The Sun: Our bodies naturally make vitamin D when our skin is exposed to the sun. However, most young kids do not make enough of the vitamin from the sun as they spend most of their time indoors.
- Food: Vitamin D is naturally present in only a few foods, such as fatty fish and fish oils, which most kids aren’t fond of. For this reason, milk, yogurt, baby formula, cereal, and many other foods are ‘fortified’ with vitamin D.
- Supplements: Children who don’t get enough Vitamin D naturally are recommended to take Vitamin D supplements. In multivitamin supplements, this is sometimes labeled as vitamin D3. Seek advice from your child’s doctor to choose the right one.
The quantity of vitamin D Your Child needs:
- Babies younger than a year need 400 IU of vitamin D each day. Baby formula has 400 IU per liter, so your baby is most likely getting enough if they drink at least one liter of formula each day.
- Children older than a year are recommended to take between 600 to 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily.
However, there are instances where children may be given more vitamin D. Examples include:
- Children who are taking some medications that affect the way the body uses vitamin D
- Children with certain medical problems such as bone pain, fibrosis, cystic, or multiple fractures
- Children who are healing from bone surgery
How you can help Your Child get enough vitamin D
To ensure that your child is getting enough vitamin D, give them vitamin D rich foods and speak to your child’s doctor about supplementing the diet. Also, let your child play outside in the sun. Just make sure to protect their skin and be aware that children under 12 months old should never be exposed to direct sunlight.
Dr. Piyawut Kreetapirom, MD. (8 July 2021)