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Vitamin D Deficiency in Children

Author: CHKD Medical Group, Dr. Paige Frazer
Published Date: Thursday, February 11, 2021

By Dr. Paige Frazer, Pediatric Specialists

Kids hear it all the time from their parents, but there’s some wisdom to the old adage: “Go outside and play!”

Spending time outdoors – especially on a sunny day – helps a child’s body produce vitamin D. Known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D helps the body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus. Both of these minerals are vital to bone growth.

When children don’t have enough vitamin D for a prolonged amount of time, it can lead to rickets, a skeletal disorder that causes bones to be soft and weak. Vitamin D deficiency can also make it more likely for older kids and teens to suffer bone fractures.

Getting enough sun can be difficult in the winter when many kids want to stay inside where it’s warm and watch TV or play board games. Older teens may want to spend more time online playing video games and socializing with their friends.

Additionally, many parents rightfully worry about sun exposure and increasing their child’s risk for skin cancer. In this case, it’s best to ask your child’s pediatrician how much sun exposure is safe.

One way for parents to help their kids increase their vitamin D levels is to offer them specific foods. Foods that are fortified with vitamin D such as milk, cereal, orange juice, and yogurt can be good sources of the vitamin.

Natural sources of vitamin D include:

  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Salmon
  • Herring

In general, infants that consume less than 24 ounces of vitamin-D fortified formula and children who consume less than 16 ounces of vitamin-D fortified milk each day, may need to take a supplement. Many children start taking vitamin D supplements when they’re infants, particularly babies who are breastfed.

If you think your infant, child, or teen needs to take a vitamin D supplement, ask your pediatrician first. The amount of vitamin D they require can vary according to their age and physical health.

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About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.