One of the most important vitamins for our health is vitamin D. With its help our body absorbs Calcium and Phosphor, hence, stimulating normal growth and formation of bone tissue in children.
Sufficient amounts of this vitamin in the body also contribute to:
• Prevention of rickets and osteoporosis;
• The strengthening of the immune system (diminishing susceptibility to various infections);
• Prevention of skin diseases;
• Reducing the frequency and gravity of bronchial asthma recurrence;
• Maintaining normal weight;
• Reducing the risk of such diseases as rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, cancer and diabetes.
There are 5 different forms of vitamin D. For humans, the most important ones are vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol), which are synthesized in the epidermis when our skin is exposed to ultraviolet rays, in other words – sunlight. Scientists have proven that for people with fair skin living in a moderate climate, it is useful to spend 20-30 minutes, 2-3 times a week in the sun. During the summer this provides for production of sufficient amounts of vitamin D in the human body. In a tropical climate, exposing your skin to sunlight for 15 minutes a week will be enough natural Vitamin D for two seasons. An interesting fact is that when exposed to an UV lamp, the body does not produce a sufficient quantity of Vitamin D to meet the body’s demand.
Pediatric recommendations on the daily intake of vitamin D for children:
• Babies 2-3 weeks old should be prescribed vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) during the autumn and winter periods in a dose of 400 – 500 IU, making breaks during the months of intensive insolation (April-August). This scheme can be applied only to children that are breast-fed. All specialized infant formulas already contain vitamin D.
• Children of one year and on should also receive supplementary vitamin D during autumn and winter periods administered in a doses of 400 – 500 IU in order to ensure normal skeleton and teeth formation.
• Products containing vitamin D should be introduced into the diet of every child: eggs (especially yolk) – 3 times a week; fermented milk products, hard cheese and butter – every day as per age norm; seafood – twice a week.
• When selecting a travel destination for all of the family, you may want to choose one with a moderate or marine climate.
Minor quantities of vitamin D can also be found in some foods, such as egg-yolks, fermented milk products, hard cheese, butter and seafood. Greater amounts of this essential vitamin can be found in cod liver, halibut, herring, tuna and mackerel.
Stay healthy and enjoy, and the pediatricians at American Medical Centers will be happy to assist you with any questions!
Oksana Chertishova, MD, PhD