Vitamin D And The Changing Seasons: A Child's Journey

Vitamin D And The Changing Seasons: A Child's Journey

Written by Kamalika Nandy
Published: March 6, 2024

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Table of Contents
arrow-right In This Article
arrow-right The Role Of Sunlight
arrow-right Winter Months And Vitamin D Deficiency
arrow-right Summer Months And Natural Synthesis
arrow-right Geographical Variations
arrow-right Dietary Sources And Supplementation
arrow-right Sun Safety
arrow-right Monitoring Vitamin D Levels
arrow-right References

Vitamin D is undoubtedly one of the most important vitamins in children that is needed for healthy growth and development. Spending time in the sun is one of the most basic and effective ways of increasing Vitamin D in the body. Sunlight produces UVA, UVC, and UVB rays. When our skin is exposed to sunlight, the UVB rays convert a protein called 7-DHC into Vitamin D3, an active form of Vitamin D.

Just like the changing seasons, the duration and length of sunlight also change. The phenomenon that changes the UVB rays effect is called the Zenith angle of the sun. In simpler words, it’s the angle between the sun’s rays and the vertical (1). Moving further we’ll learn more about how the intensity and duration of the sunlight changes across seasons.

In This Article
The Role Of Sunlight

Vitamin D is essential for maintaining good bone and muscle health in children. Vitamin D Deficiency can cause rickets – a bone condition that can cause growth abnormalities and joint deformities.

The most functional way to prevent Vitamin D deficiency in children is by making them spend time outdoors. It is believed that children with darker skin and children who spend most of their time indoors are at higher risk of developing low Vitamin D levels in their bodies (2).

Winter Months And Vitamin D Deficiency

Studies have shown that during the winter months, the sun’s zenith angle is minimal which means the UVB rays effect is reduced and hence Vitamin D production is very low (3). Also, during the cold winters children spend most of their time indoors and are usually wrapped in many layers of clothing which further lowers the chances of Vitamin D absorption from the sun. Hence the arrival of winters is considered as one of the factors that may contribute to Vitamin D deficiency in children.

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Summer Months And Natural Synthesis

In summer, the exposure of the skin to the sun is way higher than it is during the winter months, which means that Vitamin D production is also comparatively higher. However, children with darker skin have more melanin which lowers the intensity of UV rays penetrating. Hence children with darker skin might need to spend more time outdoors than children with lighter skin tones (4).

Geographical Variations

Along with changing seasons, geographical variations are also a factor that decides the intensity and duration of sunlight. It is assumed that children who live in the northern or southern hemisphere, beyond 33° latitude are at a higher risk of suffering from Vitamin D deficiency, because at this degree the zenith angle is minimal, which means very less UVB rays reach the earth (3). However, for children living between latitudes of 40° north and 40° south, the UVB rays are present in abundance, so much so that their skin can make Vitamin D throughout the year (5).

Dietary Sources And Supplementation

Vitamin D not only keeps the bones and muscles healthy, but it also works in keeping several other diseases at bay. Low levels of Vitamin D in children are frequently linked to conditions like weak immune systems, heart problems, high blood pressure levels, and the risk of autoimmune diseases like diabetes (2).

Vitamin D rich foods include oily fishes like mackerel, and salmon, egg yolks, red meat, and liver. Some amount of fortified Vitamin D can also be found in breakfast cereals and some types of milk (6).

Seasonal factors and a diet deficient in Vitamin D call for the need for Vitamin D supplementation. Vitamin D supplements are nothing but tablets or formulations that are used for children who lack or have lower levels of Vitamin D in their bodies. Vitamin D supplements aim to increase the vitamin levels in the body which eventually help in preventing diseases and improve the overall well-being of the child.

Sun Safety

As much as sunshine is important for the body, excess of it can be harmful. Simple ways to protect children from the strong harmful rays of the sun include (7):

Applying sunscreen: It is advised to use almost half tablespoon of sunscreen which has SPF between 15-50 on the face, neck, and arms at least 30 mins before leaving the house. The sunscreen should be reapplied every 2-3 hours; if you spend longer time outdoors.

Using shades/ hats/sunglasses: Wear clothes with long sleeves, use hats and sunglasses to avoid over-exposure of skin. Also, standing in shades or using an umbrella is a good way to avoid the harsh sun rays and avoid being outdoors between 10 am- 4 pm, when the UV rays are at their maximum.

Monitoring Vitamin D Levels

Vitamin D levels are often diagnosed by a blood test which is requested by a doctor and then the doctor advises on using supplements, sunlight exposure, and a Vitamin D-rich diet. Always take advice from your doctor before you start and stop Vitamin D supplements for your child, as maintaining optimal vitamin levels in the blood is important for the health of the child.

You can also use Nutricheck on to understand your child’s nutritional score. Simply add details like their age, gender, height, weight, and food preferences and it will give you a detailed breakdown. The symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency can sometimes be silent and that’s why keeping track of this vitamin is essential.

Along with supplementation, spending time outdoors and making changes to diet is necessary. It’s also important to ensure that there is no overexposure.

Just like any other vitamin, Vitamin D also plays a significant role in maintaining good health in children. With changing weather, increased screen time, and unhealthy lifestyle choices, children have become very prone to Vitamin D deficiencies. That’s why, as parents, you need to keep a check on your children’s health. Keeping all the above things in mind, you can build a healthy and wholesome future for your child.


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.

  1. Sunlight and Vitamin D.
  2. Vitamin D.
  3. Vitamin D In Children’s Health.
  4. Ask the Doctors – How much sunshine do I need for enough Vitamin D?.
  5. Vitamin D status in the tropics: Is sunlight exposure the main determinant?.
  6. Vitamin D.
  7. Sun Exposure in Children: Balancing the Benefits and Harms.

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