What does Vitamin D do for the body?
Vitamin D is essential for regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, and facilitating normal immune system function. Too little Vitamin D results in soft bones in children and fragile, misshapen bones in adults. There are many other possible correlations between Vitamin D and its treatment or prevention of autism, autoimmune disease, cancer, chronic pain, depression, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, flu, neuromuscular diseases, and osteoporosis. However, there have been no definitive clinical trials.
Do children need Vitamin D supplementation?
Yes, if they are deficient. Children need 400-600 International Units (IU) a day. Though Vitamin D deficiencies in children are common, it’s important to you know if your child is deficient or not before you begin supplementing. Over 75% of our patients are Vitamin D deficient, including children.
Can Vitamin D levels be tested?
Yes, by a simple blood draw. For children, the draw site (backs of hands and upper forearms) can be numbed with a cream beforehand so it doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience.
Can children intake too much Vitamin D?
Yes, though not likely without supplementation. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin; it dissolves in fat and is stored in body tissues. Rather than excreting the excess like water-soluble vitamins, the body stores it, and it can accumulate to dangerous levels. The upper-level intake of Vitamin D for children is 3,000 IU/day for kids ages 4-8, 2,500 IU/day for kids ages 1-3, 1,500 IU/day for infants ages 6-12 months, and 1,000 IU/day for infants ages 0-6 months. In most cases, symptoms of Vitamin D toxicity is actually caused by a lack of Vitamin K2. In cases where high dose Vitamin D supplementation is recommended, Vitamin K2 supplementation is also recommended. Ask your provider if you need Vitamin K2 supplementation in conjunction with Vitamin D supplementation or not.
Can children get enough Vitamin D in food?
Yes, though not always easily or healthily. Natural sources of Vitamin D include wild-caught fish, beef or calf liver, egg yolks, canned fish, and shiitake mushrooms. Fortified sources of Vitamin D include milk, yogurt, almond milk, pudding made with milk, orange juice, breakfast cereals, fortified tofu, oatmeal, cheese, eggnog, and margarine. The problem with fortified Vitamin D sources is that the majority are dairy and sugar products, which can and do cause many other problems in children.
Is the sun a good source of Vitamin D?
Yes, though not for everyone. Many people, including children, have issues with absorption in their intestines. These are due to many different variables, including antibiotics, food allergies and sensitivities, parasites, and more. In cases of malabsorption, the gut is not able to properly absorb, manufacture, and store the form of Vitamin D derived from the sun.
How long should supplementation last?
I recommend supplementing in the winter into early spring when the immune system typically has to work harder. Vitamin D levels can sometimes be difficult to improve, depending on the health of the gut. Regular testing of Vitamin D is recommended to know whether a patient needs to increase or decrease their dose.
Do you recommend a brand of Vitamin D supplement?
Metagenics D3 Liquid is a daily Vitamin D supplement that I recommend for children. D3 is the naturally-occurring form of the vitamin. It should be dosed by your provider based upon your child’s age, weight and Vitamin D levels. This product is listed on our website under Patient Resources > Metagenics > General Wellness.
Jaimeé Arroyo Novak, FNP