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Vitamin D for Children

Posted on January 25th, 2013 by | 5 views
SmartyPants Examines Vitamin D for Children

You might not be aware that the Academy of American Pediatrics (AAP) recently updated its recommendation on vitamin D intake for children from 200 to 400 IU. This is because new research shows that vitamin D is powerhouse for boosting immune health, preventing rickets and supporting optimal bone growth in children. Current research also suggests that vitamin D deficiency may also play a role in type 1 diabetes in children, autoimmune diseases in children (including MS in children), along with obesity in children.

According to Frank Greer, MD, FAAP, chair of the AAP Committee on Nutrition and co-author of the report recommending the higher amount:

"We are doubling the recommended amount of vitamin D children need each day because evidence has shown this could have life-long health benefits. Supplementation is important because most children will not get enough vitamin D through diet alone.”

It turns out vitamin D is one of the most important supplemental vitamins for a growing child, because apart from limited and safe exposure to the sun, the human diet provides only small amounts of vitamin D. Supplementation therefore becomes essential to reach the amount considered beneficial by the AAP.

Healthy habits formed during childhood like supplementing with vitamin D can lead to a lifetime of positive benefits, as the range of diseases this vitamin helps protect against is even greater in adults!

However, vitamin D is one of the most misunderstood vitamins, since it comes in several forms and is even prescribed by doctors for cases of severe deficiency. But is the prescription form of vitamin D the one that’s best for your child?

Which Form of Vitamin D is Best for your Child?

Vitamin D comes in two forms, D2 and D3. It actually comes in three forms since there are pharmaceutical grades of vitamin D and its metabolites that are made synthetically, but most health experts agree that synthetically produced supplements created in a laboratory are inferior to natural sources. And according to the Vitamin D Council you should avoid pharmaceutical grade vitamin D entirely to treat deficiency in this vitamin.

If your doctor prescribes a vitamin D supplement for your child, the pharmacy will fill the prescription with vitamin D2. But this is exactly the form of vitamin D you do not want to give your child.


Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is derived from plant sources and is not normally found in the human body. D2 therefore is thought to be less well absorbed by your body. Some health experts also believe that since D2 is not naturally present in the body, it may produce unknown and possibly detrimental effects when digested in your gastrointestinal tract.

D3 (cholecalciferol), on the other hand, is the exact form of vitamin D your body produces when your skin comes into contact with sunlight. D3 for this reason is considered the one your body is programmed to recognize and the one health experts agree should be included in your child’s supplement.

In fact, a study published in the Journal of Endocrinolgy & Metabolism found that vitamin D3 is 87 percent more potent at raising blood levels than vitamin D2. D3 also produced a 2-3 fold increase in storage of the vitamin compared to D2. The study concluded that due to its greater potency, vitamin D3 should be the preferred choice when treating deficiency.

At SmartyPants, we wanted our own children to have the preferred form of vitamin D, so we included 400 IU of D3 in our All-In-One, the exact amount and type of vitamin D recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Vitamin D and Bone Health.

Cases of rickets, a bone disease in infants and children caused by deficient levels of vitamin D, are on the rise. Rickets causes a softening of the bone, and can lead to stunted growth, preventable fractures as well as more serious bone deformities.

Researchers recently found that nine percent, or 7.6 million children across America are vitamin D deficient. The same study showed that supplementation with vitamin D helped both prevent and treat rickets. The children in the study who supplemented with vitamin D were less likely to be deficient, but only four percent of children in the study were actually supplementing with vitamin D.

Only four percent of children in the study were taking supplemental vitamin D! That means only four percent of parents were armed with the information needed to make the right choice when it came to protecting their children’s bone health.

You don’t want to be one of the 96% of parents who are not properly informed about the benefits of vitamin D supplementation. In fact, were committed to doing our part to help ameliorate this widespread problem of vitamin D deficiency in America’s children. Through our unique partnership with Vitamin Angels, SmartyPants has pledged to donate a one-month supply matching nutrient grant to at-risk children for each bottle we sell.

That’s putting our money where our mouth is.

By the way, childhood cases of rickets have also been linked to an array of future adult health problems. Cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, several cancers, and autoimmune diseases have all shown links to childhood cases of rickets.

So helping your child avoid rickets now can play a part in preventing a lifetime of future health issues.

Vitamin D Deficiency and Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity has exploded in America, with the US government in 2009 declaring it a national epidemic. Obesity is defined as a body mass index of 30 or greater, and some of the statistics related to obese children are truly frightening:

  • Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the last 30 years
  • One in seven low income children is now obese
  • Type 2 diabetes affects 8-9% of America’s children
  • Obesity in children 6-11 stands at 19.6%
  • Obesity in children 12-19 stands at 18.1%

A Harvard researcher has found a link between childhood obesity and deficiency in vitamin D. According to researcher Eduardo Villamor, children with both deficient and low levels vitamin D gained weight faster than children with healthy levels of the vitamin.

Obviously, low vitamin D is not the only culprit when it comes to childhood obesity, but this link points to vitamin D supplementation as a proactive defense that parents can employ against too rapid weight gain in their children.

A Powerful Boost for your Immune System

Vitamin D is one of the most powerful immune boosting vitamins available to us today. One study suggests that higher levels of vitamin D boost both your and your child’s immunity to microbial infections.

Another study done at UCLA suggests higher vitamin D levels correlate with a heightened immune response to all infections. In fact, study after study point to vitamin D playing an important role in immune response.

One study even indicates that vitamin D supplementation may in fact be more effective against the flu than a flu vaccine! In fact, the study concludes that vitamin D was 800 percent more effective at preventing influenza in children than the flu vaccine.

So really supplementing with vitamin D is like taking out a blanket health insurance policy against microbial and viral infections in your child, which is certainly something that you would do anyway if your doctor offered you such a policy.

Vitamin D Summary

Giving your child vitamin D now will not only protect against childhood diseases, but can also set up the foundation for a lifetime of good health. Not only does vitamin D boost you child’s ability to fight off a host of diseases, it also appears to play a crucial role in a warding off a variety of degenerative and “lifestyle” diseases as well.

We’ve included 400 IU of the expert recommended vitamin D3 in our All-In-One formulation, so with every passing day you’ll be assured your child is getting 100% of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended dose of vitamin D.

If your child has other sources of vitamin D in their diet, or gets lots of direct sun exposure, you don’t have to worry about getting too much vitamin D. Even by the most conservative estimates it’s realistically possible to get another 500 IU of supplemental vitamin D from your daily diet, and vitamin D toxicity is thought to occur only after many, many thousands of supplemental IUs. And when it comes to sunshine, your body has a natural feedback loop that will actually stop producing vitamin D from sun exposure once you reach optimal levels. It’s how our bodies were designed to be in the sun all day!

Some health experts even consider much higher supplemental doses to be beneficial and therapeutic, but please check with your doctor before you supplement additionally with vitamin D.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products and information presented on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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