As we’re spending more time in our homes, a daily dose of Vitamin D has never been more important to help you and your family stay well.
We all need vitamin D in order to have healthy bones. It controls the amount of calcium and phosphate in our blood. Our bodies can only get a small amount of vitamin D from the foods we eat, so our skin needs exposure to sunlight to produce the rest.
The earliest research on Vitamin D came from medical experts curious about the effect of cod liver oil on children with rickets. So it’s no surprise that Vitamin D for children is still an important topic. Children of all ages need enough Vitamin D to keep their minds and bodies healthy as they grow.
How much Vitamin D does your child need?
Official guidelines say that children aged 12+ months need 10 micrograms of Vitamin D every day. Although the human body can produce Vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, it is likely that your child’s body is not getting enough sunshine to produce the Vitamin D it needs.
Is your child deficient in Vitamin D?
Most children in developed, Northern hemisphere countries like the UK are lacking Vitamin D. As a parent, you could do everything in your power to feed them a healthy diet and keep them active. But some children’s lifestyle keeps them out of the sunshine during our sunniest hours.
What are the signs of vitamin D deficiency?
Babies with a vitamin D deficiency are prone to seizures and older children will have softer bones, weaker muscles and are likely to be small for their age. It’s vital that it’s treated as soon as possible so you need to make a doctor’s appointment if you think your child might be vitamin D deficient.
How is it treated?
Once you’ve spoken to your doctor about your concerns, they’ll run a blood test to confirm whether your child has the condition. Children of different ages require different amounts of vitamin D per day and your doctor will be able to provide you with tailored advice and arrange follow-up appointments to check how things are going in the coming weeks and months.
How to give your child more Vitamin D
Fortified foods like some breakfast cereals and orange juice contain extra Vitamin D. It wouldn’t hurt to give these to your child in place of non-fortified versions. But the best way to boost your child’s Vitamin D levels is to encourage them outside in the sunshine during bright sunlight. If you are worried about the risks, remember that we only need 10 minutes of sunshine on exposed skin (arms, legs, faces and hands) to produce Vitamin D.
But what if your child spends a lot of time inside? Perhaps school and after-school clubs prevent them from getting outside. Maybe they’re not keen on outdoor play, or they do an indoor sport? Government health guidelines recommend giving children a daily Vitamin D supplement (10 mcg) every day. Vitamin D supplements are natural and safe.
What to do if you are worried
If you think your child is suffering from low Vitamin D levels and you want to do more than give them a supplement, ask your Doctor for advice about diagnosing Vitamin D deficiency in children.