Have you heard all the hype about Vitamin D lately?
What used to be a vitamin that only the health conscious or ill patients took has evolved into something that we all should pay attention to.
Why has Vitamin D gone from the fringe to full court press? When ingested in adequate amounts, vitamin D can help children and adults produce strong bones, protect against osteoporosis, and may have long-term health benefits to bolster the immune system, and decrease the incidence of autoimmune disease, diabetes, and even protect against cancer. Even though Vitamin D has all these wonderful benefits – many children and adults have a relative deficiency of this valuable resource.
Our bodies synthesize vitamin D when we are exposed to direct sunlight. Now that it’s October. . . look outside. The days are getting shorter and there isn’t much opportunity for our skin to absorb the sunlight and make Vitamin D. Furthermore, the foods we eat also are typically low in Vitamin D.
In order to get the recommended daily dose of 400 International Units (IU) of vitamin D from our diet, a child needs to drink 4 glasses of vitamin D fortified milk. Other dairy products made with cow’s milk, such as yogurt and cheese, have very small amounts of vitamin D. There are no other consistent dietary sources of Vitamin D.
Although breastfeeding is by far the best source of nutrition for infants, exclusively breast fed infants typically have low Vitamin D levels because maternal Vitamin D stores are low. For this reason, breast fed infants should begin supplementation with 400 IU of vitamin D within the first few days of life. This can be easily found as a component of many infant liquid multivitamins available at most pharmacies and convenience stores.
Research has shown that consistent Vitamin D supplementation, especially during the winter months in northern climates, may help to improve mood, energy level, and overall health. Since Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and can accumulate in the body, families should be careful not to exceed the recommended dose of vitamin D for children or adults.
Kristin Seaborg is a Wisconsin pediatrician who writes about her experiences and perspective as a pediatrician and a parent of three children on her blog, Common Sense Motherhood. To find out more about Dr. Seaborg, you can visit her at her website, www.kristinseaborg.com.