What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is also known as Sunshine vitamin. Vitamin D is obtained from both sun exposure and dietary food, but mainly synthesized in the skin, starting from the precursor 7-dehydrocholesterol, which is converted into another form, through a mechanism induced by exposure to UVB light and subsequently isomerized to active form iecholecalciferol (Vitamin D3).
Vitamin D play’s an important role in the regulation of calcium and maintenance of phosphorus levels in the blood. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a variety of bone problems, in babies, children and adults.
What is Vitamin D Deficiency & Why Babies Need it?
Babies do not get adequate amounts of Vitamin D from breast milk alone, that is why pediatricians suggest Vitamin D supplementation right from birth. Babies fed with powder milk may get a bit more Vitamin D as compared to breast fed infants, however Vitamin D supplementation is suggested for them too, as the child may not consume the quantities of milk that are needed. Vitamin D is important for bone growth and development.
During pregnancy, vitamin D from the mother helps babies developing in the womb. Having the right amount of vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus is important for building and keeping strong bones. Vitamin D helps us absorb calcium. Calcium is important for the functioning of every cell in the body. Therefore Vitamin D deficiency in turn may lead to Calcium deficiency too.
If babies do not get enough vitamin D, they are at risk of getting rickets, a disease that affects the bone growth and development. Rickets is the failure of mineralization of growing bone and cartilage. Vitamin D deficiency will also affect other body systems like Immune system, muscular system, concentration, sleep etc.
What are the Major Role of Vitamin D & How it’s Helpful for Kids?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally available in some foods and is available in many nutritional supplements. Vitamin D has the properties of both a hormone and a vitamin and it is necessary for mineral homeostasis and proper formation of bones. One of the other major biological function of vitamin D is to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium, helping to form and maintain strong bones.
Vitamin D promotes an overall increase in the strength of the immune system and helps to produce antibodies, that fight infections. Many studies have shown that Vitamin D helps in protecting the body from infections and also helps in faster recovery. Normal level of vitamin D also helps to reduce the risk of autoimmune conditions, infections, and increases immunity.
Vitamin D is also used with other medications to treat low levels of calcium or phosphate caused by certain disorders such as hypoparathyroidism, pseudohypoparathyroidism, familial hypophosphatemia, kidney disease to keep calcium levels normal and allow normal bone growth.
Food Sources of Vitamin D
Food items rich in vitamin D such as spinach, kale, okra, curd, collards, soya beans, white beans and some fish, like sardines, salmon, perch, and rainbow trout, beef liver, cheese, egg yolks.
Food fortified with vitamin D, like some dairy products, orange juice, soya milk, and cereals. Recommended amount of vitamin D for children (1-18years) is 400IU, as per ICMR 2010 guidelines.
It is very important to follow the advice of the Pediatrician and supplement Vitamin D for babies right from birth. It is also advisable to supplement children’s diet with Vitamin D, especially if they are poor eaters. Vitamin D is vital for adequate growth & development in children.