It is difficult to find a person who has never heard of vitamin D. But most of all this vitamin worries young mothers: whether or not to take it for children is one of the most frequent questions to the doctor. What are the features and benefits of vitamin D for children?
Functions of vitamin D and its varieties
Calciferol – this is what it is often called in the medical and scientific literature – plays an extremely important role in the proper functioning of the human body. It is a fat-soluble vitamin, one of the key components of human metabolism. Due to this feature, it can accumulate in human adipose tissues and then gradually be used up as needed.
The main purpose of calciferol is to help the absorption of phosphorus and calcium in the duodenum. In addition, he:
- participates in the normalization of the cardiovascular system, lowers blood pressure;
- promotes the accelerated growth of cells of vital human organs – intestines, lungs and others;
- supports the activity of immune cells;
- protects nerve fibers from damage and stimulates the conduction of nerve impulses;
- regulates the exchange of minerals in the body;
- responsible for blood clotting.
Receptors of the substance are found in many organs, including the brain, heart muscle, cells of the immune system, and the pancreas.
Vitamin D exists in the body in 5 different forms, but the most interesting for us are:
- D2, or ergocalciferol, it can enter the body only with food;
- D3, or cholecalciferol, is produced by exposure to sunlight of a certain spectrum in human skin.
Under favorable conditions, our body is able to synthesize D3 itself, but most often this does not happen in quantities vital for a person.
Vitamin D for children
Since calciferol is responsible for the absorption of calcium, vitamin deficiency leads to a violation of the formation of bone structures. Bones will become thinner, brittle and brittle, susceptible to deformation. These changes are the basis of a serious childhood disease – rickets. The discovery of the vitamin at the beginning of the 20th century was a real breakthrough for the treatment of this disease, which has spread enormously throughout the world. Of course, rickets is an extreme degree of D2 and D3 deficiency in the body. But even with a slight imbalance, certain symptoms in a child will let you know about vitamin D hypovitaminosis.
What you should pay attention to:
- increased fatigue, moodiness;
- constant anxiety (inability to sit in one place, reaction to harsh sounds and flashes of light);
- poor concentration of attention;
- superficial, light sleep;
- increased sweating (and itching in the head and neck area).
Childhood and adolescence is a time to pay special attention to your child’s vitamin D intake. During these periods of life, this is especially important due to active growth, the formation of all systems and, at the same time, the continuous learning process of the child. A separate line is the additional circles and sections so beloved by parents. They create an overload on the child’s body, which means that the child will need to receive a full range of vitamins and mineral supplements.
Whole Food and Nutritional Supplements
We can get many useful substances and vitamins we need with food. That is why balanced and proper nutrition is the key to a child’s health. It must contain proteins, fats, carbohydrates, fiber. Do not skew in one direction. The richest in D2 are seafood and fatty fish, dairy products. Oddly enough, milk itself is not a source of D2 for humans, since calciferol is extremely poorly absorbed from there. Fish oil is believed to be the main source of D. They are also rich in pink salmon, chum salmon, herring, black caviar, cod liver, tuna, egg yolk and even chanterelle mushrooms.
Agree that these are not the products that children love. Most babies and adolescents will find it difficult to feed chum salmon or cod liver, and in order to get the right amount of vitamin, it must be done regularly and in sufficient quantity. What we get from food may not be enough to replenish the daily dose of vitamins in the body as a whole. In addition, the assimilation of minerals and vitamins from any product is rather low: something is lost in the process of cooking, something depends on the characteristics of a particular organism – acidity, metabolism, and so on.
In this case, vitamin supplements come to the rescue. Their undoubted advantage is that they are already calculated taking into account the optimal daily dose and most often combine several well-combined vitamins – they are much easier to take than several vitamins separately. Such complex supplements are an excellent prevention of vitamin deficiency. For example, tablet for children with Omega-3 and vitamin D – they contain up to 80% of the daily value of D2 and D3. After swallowing, the capsule instantly turns into an emulsion, which is best absorbed in the body. And what is especially pleasant for children – after the intake, there is no fishy aftertaste. Such lozenges can be given to children from 3 years old.
Another option is Calcium, Magnesium and Vitamin D lozenges. They will be a great help for a growing child’s body. D3 and magnesium will enhance the absorption of calcium, which is responsible for the health of our bones, teeth, hair and nails. It is fundamentally important to support the musculoskeletal system at the time of rapid growth.
So, the ideal solution to the problem is to eat healthy and varied and add vitamins and minerals in a complex form. They can be taken in courses, and the doctor will help you choose the best drug, taking into account the individual characteristics and needs of the child.
Daily Value of Vitamin D and Age
There is an exact daily requirement for vitamin D – it will differ depending on age. It is calculated in the so-called international units – IU.
- A child under one year old needs 400 IU of vitamin per day.
- From one to 14-15 years old – in 600 IU of vitamin.
- Adult – 800 IU per day. After 60 years, a person’s ability to absorb vitamin D from foods and multivitamins decreases, so the daily requirement increases to 1000 IU.
- Pregnant and lactating women, due to the increased load on the body systems, need to consume 1000 IU of vitamin per day.
This is the lower limit of the amount of vitamin D the body needs on a daily basis. Consuming less than this norm is undesirable, but exceeding, even several times, will not be critical. It is possible to notice a significant lack of vitamin D without tests. The manifestation of certain symptoms should give a certain signal that something is wrong with the body.
Indirect signs of vitamin D deficiency in children may include:
- deterioration of vision;
- nervousness and irritability (especially if the child had a calm character before);
- fatigue and lethargy;
- unstable work of the digestive tract;
- problems with appetite.
Vitamin D for babies
It is very important to use vitamin D in the correct dosage from a very early childhood, since it is at this stage that all vital human systems are laid down and improved. With a lack of vitamin D in the first year of life, there is a high risk of developing problems with the musculoskeletal system in the future, as well as the development of obesity, diabetes mellitus and diseases of the cardiovascular system. Today, the relationship between the formation of a child’s speech skills and whether his mother was provided with the necessary amount of vitamin D during pregnancy is already obvious and proven.
Everyone knows that treatment is a more complicated, long and expensive process than disease prevention. Preventing vitamin deficiency in general and vitamin D deficiency in particular is easier than treating the possible consequences of vitamin D deficiency.
Preventive measures to prevent infant vitamin deficiency will be:
- competent nutrition of the mother during pregnancy and breastfeeding;
- walks in the fresh air and the sun (with the exception of times of high solar activity);
- adherence to the daily routine and sleep;
- compliance with the recommendations for the introduction of complementary foods and a variety of food for the baby.
One of the frequent questions for pediatricians: should a newborn drink vitamin D if he is breastfed and his mother takes vitamin D3? The answer is yes you need to. The infant’s need for vitamin D cannot be fully met in mother’s breast milk, as its concentration is very low. If a baby eats formula milk, then it already contains a certain dose of vitamin D, but it will also not be enough for the daily requirement.
So, any baby, regardless of the type of food, needs to be given vitamin D. For those who still cannot chew, there is a liquid form of release. It is an aqueous or oily solution, one drop of which contains about 500 IU of vitamin D, which is very convenient for dosing and taking. In summer, despite the presence of the sun, it is possible and even necessary to continue taking vitamin D – after all, our climate is not famous for an abundance of sunny days, and in big cities the sun is hindered by smog and air pollution.