How much sun do your kids need to get enough vitamin D
Vitamin D is a very important nutrient everyone needs, specially the children. As Vitamin D along with calcium helps in building stronger bones and also preventing health problems like diabetes, heart ailments, osteoporosis and more of such problems. The greatest source of Vitamin D for our body is sunlight. When we are outside in the sun, our body naturally produces the necessary vitamin D.
Vitamin D helps in absorbing minerals like calcium which are extremely important for growth and development of a child. Vitamin D can functions as hormones in our body. It regulates our immune system in our body, aids insulin production and also cell growth and regeneration too.
Does your child get enough Vitamin D:
How to understand does your child get enough Vitamin D. For most parents it is difficult to understand the daily needs of vitamin D and are they being met in their child. Infants until their first year need 1000 IU or international units of Vitamin D per day for their growth and development. Children older than one year need 2000 IU of Vitamin D everyday. Adults need approximately 3800 IU’s per day. It may not be possible to track daily intake of Vitamin D so keep the weekly count on target.
During winter months it may be difficult in US to get ample Vitamin D from sunlight so Vitamin D fortified foods or milk are available for kids. As 90% of vitamin D intake comes from sun exposure, but UVB radiation in winters is not adequate and also people with color need more sunlight than fairer complexion. Also applying sunscreen blocks the UVB radiations from entering skin.
Vitamin D deficiency in children:
Most fairer skinned people are at risk of developing Vitamin D deficiency. Lack of direct sunlight during winters and insufficient Vitamin D in diet can lead to some serious health hazards. People who are prone to vitamin D deficiency include:
1- Areas where sunlight is limited and winters are too snowy and cloudy:
Kids leaving in northern areas suffer this a lot. As snow and no sunlight causes a lots of deficiency on sunlight and UVB rays which are necessary for kids
2- People with darker skin complexion:
As people with color have more melanin on their skin than fairer people, it blocks the Vitamin d and UVB rays to enter the skin easily. Likewise a lighter skinned child needs less than half the time needed by dark skinned kid for processing same amount of UVB for Vitamin D in their body
3- Some babies who are exclusively breast fed develop Vitamin D deficiency. Breast milk is devoid of vitamin D and this may cause deficiency of Vitamin D in kids.
4- Health ailments also cause loss and deficiency of Vitamin D in our body. Cystic fibrosis, inflammatory bowel disease and obesity devoid’s the body of vitamin D needed
Foods rich in Vitamin D:
Spending 5-20 minutes in sunlight between 10 am to 3 pm is believed to be adequate for most kids. Some foods rich in vitamin D include:
- Cod liver oil
- Fatty fishes like trout, salmon and swordfish
- Portobello mushrooms
- Vitamin D fortifies juices, dairy and food items
- red meat and sardines
- Eggs also contain small amount of Vitamin D
What happens when our body has too much of Vitamin D:
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss
How to treat Vitamin D deficiency:
1- For mild deficiency you just need to give more time to your child in sunlight
2- For severe deficiency of Vitamin D in your child, the health care provider or pediatrician may prescribe Vitamin D drops or tablets
The above compilation on How much sun do your kids need to get enough vitamin D, is to help parents in determining their child’s need for Vitamin D and the right source for them too.
Check with your pediatrician for more updates.
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