Why is Vitamin D an essential nutrient? Know how it plays a role in your child’s development - Tayyari Jeet Ki by Bournvita
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Physical Health|03 October 2023

Why is Vitamin D an essential nutrient? Know how it plays a role in your child’s development

Written by Varuna Shunglu
Varuna Shunglu is an author, lawyer, health counselor and meditation teacher. She consults with Schools to create wellness curriculums and has worked with over 10,000+ kids in the last 8 years. Degrees : BA(Hons), LLB, Msc Yogic Science, Teacher trainer World Yoga Federation and Yoga Alliance International.

Introduction to the fun facts about Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a pivotal role in the development and well-being of children. Inadequate Vitamin D can delay growth milestones, cause pain in the body and cloudy thinking. It impacts the day-to-day activities and affects our kids’ study goals. There are three ways we can optimise Vitamin D intake – adequate exposure to the sun, supplementation in the form of Calciferol and correct food, helping absorption. Vitamin D foods such as fish and mushrooms play a crucial role in this.

Let’s explore interesting facts about Vitamin D, its nutritional signs, symptoms and the profound impact it has on your child’s health.

Vitamin D nutrition facts

Vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin, is indispensable for the body’s absorption and utilisation of calcium and phosphorus, promoting longevity and enhancing muscle tone and immunity. One of the most interesting and less-known Vitamin D facts is that higher levels correlate to lower rates of certain cancers. This indicates vitamin D benefits for overall health.

Sources of Vitamin D

Sunlight: When our skin basks in the sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, a natural source of Vitamin D, it triggers the synthesis of Vitamin D within our bodies.

Food: Vitamin D nutrition can be optimised through vitamin D rich foods with Omega 3s or “good fats”. This can help in the absorption of this vital nutrient. Fatty fish like salmon, mushrooms, and avocados are excellent sources of vitamin D. 

You can also increase vitamin D levels by including these in your diet.

Top 10 Vitamin D Foods

  1. Mushrooms
  2. Fatty fish like salmon
  3. Fortified plant based milk
  4. Packaged Tuna
  5. Fortified dairy like milk
  6. Fortified orange juice
  7. Fortified yogurt
  8. Cereal
  9. Whole eggs
  10. Cheese

Continuing with Vitamin D signs, symptoms and cure of deficiency

In today’s world, most of us do not get adequate sun exposure, and children rarely go out to play because of their study commitments. For inadequate Vitamin D signs and symptoms in children, check for the following:

  1. Fatigue or lack of interest in their work
  2. Inability to pay attention for long durations 
  3. Delayed growth and development, 
  4. Frequent infections, muscle weakness, pain in joints or bone tenderness, and dental problems such as delayed tooth eruption etc.

Vitamin D deficiency detection methods 

Healthcare providers recommend a blood test to detect Vitamin D levels, specifically the 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D]. Normal levels range from 30 to 100 nanograms per millilitre (ng/mL) but it should be at least 80 for optimal levels of Vitamin D in children. 

Cure for Vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D optimisation through food: For optimal Vitamin D levels in children, make sure they eat their meals well with proper intake of “good fats” such as nuts, seeds, raisins, fatty fish, coconut cream and coconut oil. These foods rich in Vitamin D assist absorption when your child plays in the sun.

Vitamin D optimisation through sunlight: Among other Vitamin D treatments, daily outdoor play is highly recommended for overall well-being, immunity and sun-light absorption. This is the best way to increase vitamin D levels naturally.

Expert’s advice around Vitamin D in children

Experts believe that Vitamin D is crucial for:

1. Bone and Teeth Health
2. Immune System Support
3. Muscle Function

How to get Vitamin D from sunlight?

  1. One of the ways how to improve Vitamin D levels according to experts is through controlled or moderate sun exposure with appropriate protection. 
  2. Encourage children to play outdoors every day during daylight hours.

Children and teenagers’ Vitamin D guidelines 

While optimal Vitamin D levels for teenagers are between 30-50 ng/mL, individual requirements may vary. Healthcare professionals believe that all infants and children, including adolescents, have a minimum daily intake of 400 IU of Vitamin D beginning in the first two months after birth and continuing through adolescence. Foods rich in vitamin D like fish and avocados can help achieve this.

Changes with seasons

Vitamin D levels fluctuate with the seasons, especially in regions with limited sunlight. 

Conclusion

Vitamin D is the cornerstone of children’s growth and well-being, nurturing robust bones and bolstering the immune system. While Vitamin D from sunlight is a good source, it is imperative to balance sun exposure and protection. Combine the above strategies of including vitamin D rich foods in your diet and seek expert advice on to bring health and vitality to your child’s life and invest in their well-being.

References:

VITAMIN D STATUS: MEASUREMENT, INTERPRETATION AND CLINICAL APPLICATION – PMC.

Vitamin D: Daily vs. Monthly Use in Children and Elderly—What Is Going On?

Paper 1

Prevention of rickets and vitamin D deficiency in infants, children, and adolescents
Carol L Wagner, Frank R Greer, Section on Breastfeeding and Committee on Nutrition
Pediatrics 122 (5), 1142-1152, 2008

Paper 2

Prevention of rickets and vitamin D deficiency: new guidelines for vitamin D intake
Lawrence M Gartner, Frank R Greer, Section on Breastfeeding, Committee on Nutrition
Pediatrics 111 (4), 908-910, 2003

Disclaimer: This information is not to be considered as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

The views expressed are that of the expert alone.

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