There is a lot of buzz about vitamin D deficiency these days. According to some reports, 40% of US infants and toddlers are not getting enough vitamin D which increases their risk of a variety of health conditions. No doubt, vitamin D is very important for health, especially for growing children. That is why it is good to pay attention to your child’s needs but there is no need to panic. In the past, I have written several articles on vitamin D including 5 ways to tell if your child may have a vitamin D problem. Here, a few quick facts about this important vitamin:
- Vitamin D actually is a prohormone; which means that it is converted into a hormone inside the body. In this way, it is different from all other vitamins.
- Vitamin D is produced when our skin is exposed to UVB rays from the sun.
- There isn’t enough UV energy above 42 degree north latitude (a line between northern California and Boston) during November to February to produce any vitamin D in the skin. In places farther north, this can last nearly 6 months during the year.
- Vitamin D from food or supplements comes in 2 forms – vitamin D2 or vitamin D3.
- Vitamin D3 is 3 times more effective than vitamin D2 in maintaining blood levels of the active form of vitamin D.
- Vitamin D is fat soluble and any excess from sun exposure or diet is stored in fat cells available for release when blood levels fall low especially during winter months. This does not, however, happen very easily in overweight or obese individuals.
- American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a daily value of 400 IU for young children. You can get this amount from 4 glasses of milk or vitamin D fortified orange juice, 1.5 oz of cooked salmon, or about a third table spoon of cod liver oil.
- Vitamin D deficiency causes rickets in children. Recent research indicates a link between vitamin D deficiency and diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancers.
- Blood levels of less than 20 ng/ml are considered to indicate vitamin D deficiency.
- Mushrooms when exposed to UV light during production are rich in vitamin D2.
Source: Vitamin D Dietary Supplement Facts Sheet from NIH