OK, here’s a basic question, do children today tend to spend less time playing “outside” than your generation did? We know the answer, unfortunately, is a resounding “yes”! And spending less time outside, in the sunshine, means less Vitamin D that our kids will make. Oh yeah, the “sunshine vitamin”!
We know that Vitamin D helps with the proper placement of calcium into bones and teeth. It was in the 1930s that the RDA (recommended daily allowance) for Vitamin D was created. It was at the same time that the fortification of milk with Vitamin D began. This was done to decrease the occurrence of rickets, a condition where too little calcium is deposited into bones, creating permanently curved or bent bones. Keeping bones strong is only one of the many tasks assigned to Vitamin D. Literally hundreds of associated health issues are affected if Vitamin D levels are too low.
Here are a few of the ways a low Vitamin D level may affect your child:
- A study published in June showed that children with allergic diseases of the airways (like asthma and allergies causing a runny nose) had much lower levels of Vitamin D than kids without these issues.
- In another study published this year, low Vitamin D levels were found in obese children. Low levels of Vitamin D are associated with low-grade inflammation which contributes to reduced insulin sensitivity which is seen with type 2 diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes was formerly called “adult onset diabetes” but the occurrence of it has skyrocketed over the last few decades along with the increasing number of obese children.
- Vitamin D deficiency in children and teens with Type 1 Diabetes (formerly called Juvenile Diabetes) was documented in a 2011 study.
- A study from the Department of Human Nutrition at the U. of Alabama, published this year, showed an association between low Vitamin D levels and Autism.
- In yet another study from 2014, low Vitamin D was associated with symptoms of depression in kids with Cystic Fibrosis between the ages of 7 and 17 (the ages covered in the study).
OK, you get the idea. There is a ton of research going on about the effects of Vitamin D for the health of our children! These are just a few of them. Yes, we should encourage time spent in the sunshine. Yes, we should encourage foods that contain Vitamin D. Yes, you might even add a Vitamin D supplement if necessary. It seems the more we learn about Vitamin D, the more we understand its value for our beautiful, healthy kids!!