Vitamin D is essential for helping kids develop strong bones and keep their immune systems healthy. In addition, it helps our bodies absorb and retain calcium. Children with a severe vitamin D deficiency can develop rickets, a childhood disease that weakens bones and can cause lifelong effects.
According to the Center for Disease Control CDC), infants under 12 months of age need 400 IU of vitamin D, and kids older than 12 months need 600 to 1,000 IU a day. Many kids get enough vitamin D naturally from the sun, especially during April through October, when the sun stays out for longer.
As we start to move into late fall and winter, though, it can be more challenging for kids to get the amount of vitamin D they need from the sun alone. This is especially true for kids who live in parts of the country that experience bitterly cold temperatures and mostly gray days.
In addition, kids taking certain medicines, like anti-seizure medication, or who have certain chronic conditions, like celiac disease, might also have difficulty naturally absorbing vitamin D. If you have concerns about your child’s vitamin D levels, talk to your doctor. They may be able to do a simple blood test to let you know if your child is vitamin D deficient.
Where Vitamin D Comes From and How to Get More of It
We get vitamin D naturally from the sun. Spending just 10 to 15 minutes a day in the sun during the summer can be enough to give kids enough vitamin D for the day. This can be complicated, though, when kids wear sunscreen. That’s because sunscreen blocks the sun and, therefore, prevents vitamin D from getting to kids.
Certain foods naturally contain vitamin D. Unfortunately, they tend to be foods that kids don’t love (or like. Or tolerate). If your kid is one of those adventurous eaters we’ve heard rumors about, you might be able to convince them to eat these foods and get their vitamin D:
- Canned tuna
- Eggs (especially the yolk)
- Salmon (especially wild salmon)
Because most kids are lathered up with sunscreen and don’t like to eat naturally vitamin D-rich foods, they tend to get most of their vitamin D from supplements and fortified foods.
You can find plenty of foods that are fortified with vitamin D, including milk and other dairy products, juice, cereal, and oatmeal. Because vitamin D and calcium go hand-in-hand, you’ll find many dairy products fortified with vitamin D.
Add A Supplement to Your Child’s Routine
If you don’t have the time to keep track of how many IU of vitamin D your child is getting each day, consider a supplement. Adding the right supplement to your kid’s diet can be an easy way to ensure they get enough vitamin D.
NutriTots has just released a Vitamin D3, perfect for all ages. You can get your bottle here.