Nutrition is vital to healthy growth and development in little ones. Since they are unable to understand the significance of nutrients or to feed themselves, dietary needs fall to the parents — that is not to say it is a burden; it is a responsibility.
Unfortunately, not all essential nutrients are easy to obtain through diet alone. Vitamin D exists in only a few foods naturally, so it is necessary to find fortified foods or ensure your child plays out in the sun — the great supplier.
While the sun naturally boosts the body's vitamin D supply, it may not be the most effective nutrient source. Because of sunscreens, which are crucial, the sun cannot supply enough of the nutrient. Therefore, the best way to ensure your child gets enough vitamin D is with supplements, such as Wellements Organic Vitamin D Drops.
Still, why is the nutrient so essential? What is it, and how does it help your little ones? Discover the answers.
What Is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient and a key player in several biological functions, including bone development. While labeled as a vitamin, it is a hormone, meaning it is the backbone or foundation of several actions in the human body.
Provitamin D is a substance that exists in the skin; it is not the same as vitamin D, but when exposed to sunlight, it transforms. Still, even after sunlight exposure, the substance is inactive; it needs to travel to the liver to become that special biological ingredient.
In the liver, the substance undergoes a chemical change. It is then pushed and pulled through the bloodstream to the kidneys for yet another transformation. Once in the kidneys, it becomes activated and valuable to the body.
Vitamin D contributes to many systems and functions. Bone health is likely one of its most important roles, especially in developing youngsters, but it also helps develop immune and nervous systems. Some research indicates it might even help fight several diseases, including cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis, and cancer.
Why Is It Important?
The importance of vitamin D for kids is its role in structural and mental development. One of the primary roles of the nutrient is to help the bones absorb calcium, allowing them to become strong and dense. When children do not get enough of the nutrient or do not spend enough time outdoors, they can become vitamin D deficient, causing an unfortunate condition: rickets.
Rickets is a condition that results in bones becoming soft and weak. The disease stems from prolonged deficiency. Thankfully, rickets is rare in the United States, likely a result of the introduction of fortified milk and infant formula. Still, as a parent, watch for signs, such as:
- Delayed motor skills
- Delayed growth
- Muscle weakness
- Pain in the legs, spine, or pelvis
The disease can also cause skeletal deformities because it softens tissue around growth plates. Some common deformities include:
- Breastbone projection
- Bowed legs or knocked knees
- Thickened ankles or wrists
How Much Does Your Child Need?
Vitamin D is essential in all life stages, but it is most critical to children during stages of rapid development — the first year of life and then adolescent growth spurts. Infants up to one year do not need as much of the nutrient as children over 12 months, typically only 400 IU.
Because of fortified milk and formula, bottle-fed infants usually receive all they need. Breastfed babies will need a supplement like those found at Wellements.
Children one year and older need 600 IU and can get what they need from spending time outdoors; however, they will need to go out without sunscreen. They do not need to spend all day exposed to the sun without protection.
Ways Your Child Can Get Vitamin D During Summer
The sun produces two different forms of ultraviolet radiation: UVA and UVB. The body needs UVB to make vitamin D, which is most present around noon. Send your child out to play at lunchtime for about 20 minutes without sunscreen; medical professionals suggest that is plenty of time to make enough vitamin D.
If you worry your child is not getting enough sun or vitamin D, you need to supplement it. You can choose the best vitamin D gummies for kids, Wellements Fruit Bite Vitamin D Gummies, or ensure they consume fortified foods.
Do not give your child more than directed because there is such a thing as too much vitamin D. An overdose of the nutrient can wreak havoc on the kidneys.
If your child gets enough vitamin D, talk to their pediatrician if you need more clarification. More often than not, with regular outdoor play and consuming fortified products, your little ones get all they need from diet and exercise. Still, seeking professional advice is always a good thing.