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Are Your Child’s Bones at Risk Due to Vitamin D Deficiency?

Your children need vitamin D for strong bones and muscles. This is according to the US Bone and Joint Initiative, who note that a deficiency in vitamin D, a nutrient which is mostly made by your body when your skin is exposed to sunlight, can impact your child’s wellbeing by damaging their musculoskeletal system, leading to a greater risk of osteoporosis.

Ellen Raney, MD, of Shriners Hospitals for Children, Portland, explained, ‘A vitamin D deficiency in growing children can keep their bones from growing straight or it can make bones too weak to support a child’s body weight, resulting in broken bones.’ Yet vitamin D deficiency is becoming more and more prevalent. If children do not get enough sunlight on their skin, or certain types of food, they can experience severely stunted growth, arms and legs that don’t grow straight, and bones that are weak and easily broken.

But why do vitamin D deficiencies occur so often? There are a number of reasons why your child may be lacking in the vitamin; he or she might not be going outdoors enough, or wearing sun-cream constantly when they do. The limited availability of vitamin D−rich foods may also be a contributing factor. A good diet is important but it may not be enough; you need to look for specific foods with a Daily Value (DV) of 20% or more of vitamin D. These include fish, such as salmon, cod liver oil and fortified foods such as milk, breakfast cereals and some brands of juice, yoghurt or margarine.

For babies, the American Academy of Paediatrics recommends a daily intake of 400 IU a day of vitamin D during the first year of life, beginning in the first few days. After this, the Institute of Medicine advises that children and adolescents consume a daily intake of at least 600 IU per day. There are many child-friendly forms of vitamin D supplements, such as gummy vitamins or liquid. For more information, consult your family doctor. He or she will be able to determine the correct amount of vitamin D for your children and what, if any, changes to make to their diet and supplementation regimen.

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This entry was posted on June 21, 2013 by and tagged , , .
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