In the winter months of the northern hemisphere, it becomes more important than ever to determine your child's vitamin D level. It is not known as the “feel good” hormone for nothing. If he or she were already deficient before the start of the colder months, then such levels could so easily be much worse now.
Why do children need vitamin D?
Children need vitamin D (yes,the feel good hormone) to fight the colds, flu and other viruses or bacteria that they are going to come into contact with.
If children have had a wonderful sunny summer
outdoors with sensible sunlight exposure and no sunburn, but without being covered in sun block all day long, they could well have built up sufficient vitamin D levels to see them through the winter months. But you will never know if they are not tested.
- There are an endless list of vitamin D health benefits to be had if your levels are sufficiently high enough - including working like a broad-spectrum antibiotic.
- Vitamin D is proven to be an incredibly powerful immune modulator, boosting your child's immune system and helping to protect them from illness.
What happens when vitamin D levels are low?
When sunlight is not available and vitamin D levels are low, it is not surprising that flu outbreaks usually occurs in the months following the shortest day (winter solstice) and why influenza is more common in the tropics during the rainy season.
While we did not know of the importance of vitamin D in the past, children were much more likely to spend most of the time outdoors in good weather plus the habit of giving children cod liver oil regularly (which contains vitamin D) was common.
Today, only 5% to 37% of American infants meet the standard for vitamin D set by the American Academy of Pediatrics, making them prime candidates for a host of future health problems related to vitamin D deficiency- including asthma. And you need to take into account that those figures are based on the conventional recommendation stating that 15 ng/mL is a sufficient level for bone and overall health.
Experts point out that such a low recommendation is totally inadequate and that the level for optimal health should actually be very much higher – between 50 to 70 ng/mL.
Feeling confused about those figures?
Vitamin D levels are measured in ng/mL so think about 1 to 100. Anything under 40 means you are DEFICIENT. Anything from between 40 and 100 means OK to GOOD to GREAT!
So what must parents do?
Have your own children tested
to ensure that they reach at least 50 ng/mL. If not, and you live in a cold climate, they will need supplementing with extra vitamin D3 to reach an acceptable level to see them through the winter. Experts agree that you need about 35 IUs of vitamin D3 per pound of body weight, including children, the elderly and pregnant women to start topping up in order to reach optimum levels.
That said, vitamin D requirements are different for each person, depending on many factors such as skin color, where you live and how much sunshine you are exposed to regularly. It is wise to be tested regularly and to do your own research.
There is no one size fits all.
Children are affected by low vitamin D levels even before they are born
Unfortunately many mothers-to-be are vitamin D deficient which can impact on the quality of their breast milk.
- For example a poor diet and lack of vitamin D during pregnancy have been shown to be determining factors in children suffering from asthma by the age of 5.
- Asthmatic children with low vitamin D levels also have an increased risk of suffering severe asthma attacks. Such children (if their vitamin D levels can be raised to at least 60 ng/mL) could experience a decrease or even elimination of asthma attacks. See how worthwhile raising levels can be?
- Other benefits to children include optimum levels during their mother's pregnancy help to prevent other problems such as autism while it is also thought that children may be significantly protected from type 2 diabetes. This is if the mother has sufficient vitamin D levels during pregnancy and beyond, and/or if the child himself receives sufficient amounts of vitamin D.
If you are pregnant or planning on becoming so, encourage your doctor to check your vitamin D level or arrange it yourself. In fact both parents should take steps to be vitamin D sufficient as a deficiency can contribute to infertility.
The Vitamin D Council (which is an excellent source of information on this important subject) recommends that once a woman is pregnant, she could need as much as 7000 to 8000 IU s of Vitamin D3 daily, to be continued all the time she is breast feeding. This is why knowing your vitamin D status is so important.
Plants are not the only ones to convert sunlight to energy
According to researchers publishing in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
, they have come up with the theory that our skin may act as solar panels and ingest energy from the sun, just like plants, by converting gamma and ultraviolet radiation into metabolic energy. This is a far cry from the mantra of the anti sun brigade who have been demonizing the sun these past couple of decades. Healing Natural Oils
considers vitamin D to be of great health benefit.
The important thing to remember with adults and children alike is sensible and regular sunlight exposure.