Recent studies show as many as 70% of kids aren’t getting enough vitamin D. Deficiency of vitamin D puts children at risk for high blood pressure, blood sugar, heart disease, weak bones and rickets. Vitamin D also plays a role in helping the body absorb calcium. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children get 400 IUs of vitamin D per day.
The easiest way to get vitamin D is from the sun. The body automatically synthesizes UVB rays from sunlight to vitamin D3. But with television, video games and the Internet, youngsters today aren’t spending as much time outside as their parents did. And when they are outside, they’re slathered in sunscreen, which protects their little bodies from the sun’s harmful rays but also prevents them from getting vitamin D. Even if they’re spending time outside, they still might not be getting enough sun for vitamin D. If they live in a northern climate, the sun rays might not be strong enough to give any benefit.
So how can we make sure our children are getting enough vitamin D? Some vitamin D can be found in fortified milk, but it’s all but impossible for kids to drink enough milk in one day to meet the recommended amount. One thing parents can do is allow their children to have a few minutes of sunscreen-free sun exposure. Just ten to 15 minutes a couple times a week is all they need. But if you’re leery of sending your kids out without sunscreen, make sure you’re giving them vitamin D supplements so their bodies’ requirements are met.