VITAMIN D FOR CHILDREN

Baba West Vitamin D for Children

Why is vitamin D important for your child’s health and development?

Low levels of vitamin D are widespread and this is recognised as a significant health problem due to the importance of vitamin D for many aspects of health (1).  Best known is the role of vitamin D in helping the body to absorb calcium and build strong, healthy bones and teeth. Insufficient vitamin D in childhood can lead to poor bone strength and in an increasing number of cases, rickets, where the bones become misshapen and the legs may bow. Vitamin D is also important for development of strong, healthy muscles: low vitamin D is associated with muscle weakness and poor muscle function (3).  

The importance of vitamin D for healthy immune function has recently been recognised and there is mounting evidence that it plays a pivotal role (2). Vitamin D deficiency has been related to a number of common childhood conditions that involve the immune system, including allergies (4).  It is also important for a healthy, balanced inflammatory response (2), which is relevant in conditions like asthma and eczema. There is an association between lower vitamin D levels and increased severity of asthma (5) and also atopic dermatitis (eczema): one small study found that vitamin D supplementation was helpful particularly for children with winter-related eczema (6).  Insufficient vitamin is also associated with a lowered immune response to infections (4).  One study showed that vitamin D supplementation reduced the risk of winter flu in Japanese nursery school children (7).

Owing to the importance of vitamin D for children’s healthy development, the Department of Health and NHS recommend that children aged 1 to 4 years old should be given a daily supplement containing 400iu (10μg) of vitamin D (8).

Health benefits of vitamin D

  • Helps the body absorb calcium to build strong bones and teeth
  • Important for muscle development
  • Support healthy, balanced immune function
  • Lower risk of eczema and severe asthma for children with sufficient vitamin D
  • Fewer respiratory and other infections in infants with sufficient vitamin D

References

  1. Roberto Antonucci, Cristian Locci, Maria Grazia Clemente, Elena Chicconi and Luca Antonucci (2018) Vitamin D deficiency in childhood: old lessons and current challenges. Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism V31 (3) DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jpem-2017-0391  Published online:  05 Feb 2018 https://www.degruyter.com/view/journals/jpem/31/3/article-p247.xml 
  2. Armin Zittermann and Jan F. Gummert (2010) Nonclassical Vitamin D Actions Nutrients 2010, 2, 408-425; doi:10.3390/nu2040408 https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/2/4/408/htm 
  3. Girgis CM, Clifton-Bligh RJ, Hamrick MW, Holick MF, Gunton JF. The roles of vitamin D in skeletal muscle: form, function, and metabolism. Endocr Rev 2013;34:33–83.
  4. Saggese G, Vierucci F, Boot AM, Czech-Kowalska J, Weber G, et al. Vitamin D in childhood and adolescence: an expert position statement. Eur J Pediatr 2015;174:565–76.
  5. Dogru M, Kirmizibekmez H, Yesiltepe Mutlu RG, Aktas A, Ozturkmen S. Clinical effects of vitamin D in children with asthma. Int Arch Allergy Immunol 2014;164:319–25.
  6. Camargo CA Jr, Ganmaa D, Sidbury R, Erdenedelger Kh, Radnaakhand N, et al. Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation for winter-related atopic dermatitis in children. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2014;134:831–5.
  7. Urashima, M.; Segawa, T.; Okazaki, M.; Kurihara, M.; Wada, Y.; Ida, H. Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2010.
  8. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/vitamins-for-children/ (Advice correct as at 16th June 2020)

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