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Vitamin D also known as the sunshine vitamin is essential for your body to function properly. This vitamin plays a significant role in boosting and maintaining healthy bones and teeth as it promotes the absorption of calcium from the diet consumed. Vitamin D is also beneficial for your immune system and mental health. Building healthy bones is important during childhood. Therefore, a generous amount of milk and other calcium-rich foods are added to a kid's diet. But have you ever focused on your child's vitamin D intake? We spoke to Dr. Jasjit Singh Bhasin who is the Director and HOD of Pediatrics at BLK Super Speciality Hospital to know all about the vitamin D intake in children.
Vitamin D requirement in children: Here's all you need to know
"Vitamin D is measured in both, international units as well as micrograms which can give different figures. If considering the international units, the answer is 400 international units for a normal born baby. If a baby is born before time then a higher dose is suggested. But a regular baby requires 400 units in the first 2 years and beyond that, it can be increased to 600 units later," says Dr. Bhasin.
Also read: All About Vitamin D
The importance of vitamin D
Vitamin D helps in calcium absorption and assimilation of calcium in the bones. It also supports muscles, nerves and the immune system. During the growing years, an adequate amount of vitamin D is important, especially for calcium absorption to help the kid grow properly. Inadequate intake can put him/her at a higher risk of rickets, knock knees, pot belly and immune disorders.
How to ensure optimum levels of vitamin D?
"Breast milk alone is not a very good source of vitamin D so, while the baby is on breast milk you need to supplement vitamin D either in the form of drops or fortified food sources if allowed. If the baby consumes cow milk, you need to supplement it with vitamin D. Once the child starts eating, give more dairy products or fortified foods. An egg is a natural source especially egg yolk. Fish is also a good source but not for babies and vegetarians."
"Other than drops fortified foods like oil, butter and orange juice might help achieve adequate levels of this vitamin. Vegetarian can add mushroom, soya and beans to diet. If you are a vegetarian, you can continue vitamin D drops during the second year as well. Beyond that dairy products and sunlight exposure are enough," he elaborates.
The role of sun exposure!
Sunlight is nature's way of giving vitamin D. Vitamin D is produced by the body when exposed to sunlight. Little exposure to sunlight early morning might help increase vitamin D levels in kids. But do not let the child spend too much time outdoors as too much exposure to sunlight may affect your child's skin.
Vitamin D3 drops for kids
The pediatric further explains, "A child should take 400 units in the 1st year. The concentration will decide how many drops. Usual the standard preparation is 400 or 800 units per ml but some rare preparations will have 1,000 units per ml. The measurement is not in drops and you have to be very clear about how much you are supplementing. Beyond that depends on your child's diet. If the child is not consuming fortified food or if he/she is a vegetarian, then you will need to continue with supplements for a longer time."
You need to stay in constant touch with your doctor to understand the right dosage of vitamin D for your child as per age. Do not overdose on vitamin D as it may lead to certain side effects.
(Dr. Jasjit Singh Bhasin is Director & HOD- Pediatrics at BLK Super Speciality Hospital)
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.