Most of a person’s bone mass is built during childhood, so it’s not surprising that parents want to give their children enough calcium and vitamin D to make their bones strong and healthy. Because research has repeatedly shown the importance of vitamin D for children; some parents give their children vitamin D supplements. Is taking vitamin D supplements to prevent osteoporosis during childhood a good idea?
Children and Vitamin D: Should Kids Take Vitamin D Supplements for Their Bones?
A surprisingly large number of children are deficient in vitamin D. Some studies show as many as seven out of ten children have insufficient blood levels of the “sunshine vitamin”. Vitamin D helps to build bone density by increasing calcium absorption, one of the building-blocks of healthy bones. Kids who are deficient in vitamin D have weaker bones and, in extreme cases, they can develop a serious deficiency disease called rickets. Because of this, it’s not surprising that some experts recommend that children take vitamin D as a supplement.
Vitamin D for Children: It May Not Improve Bone Density in Children Who Aren’t Deficient
According to a review published in the Cochrane Database, healthy kids who took vitamin D supplements experienced no improvement in their bone density. On the other hand, researchers emphasize that taking vitamin D supplements may still improve bone health in kids who are vitamin D deficient, although more research is needed to confirm this.
Children and Vitamin D: Should Kids Take Vitamin D Supplements?
Kids who have normal vitamin D levels may not develop greater bone density when they take vitamin D supplements – but with seven out of ten kids being vitamin D deficient – don’t be too quick to throw away the bottle of vitamin D.
Vitamin D does more than just build bone density. Children who are vitamin D deficient may be at greater risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and some types of cancer. Adequate vitamin D is also necessary for maintaining a healthy immune system. Because so many children are deficient in vitamin D and due to the importance of “D” for overall health; many experts recommend that kids take vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D for Children: The Bottom Line?
Should or shouldn’t your child take vitamin D? The best solution is to check a vitamin D level on your child through a simple blood test. If it’s not within the normal range, it’s a good idea to talk to your child’s doctor about a vitamin D supplement – not only to prevent osteoporosis later in life, but other diseases as well.
Even if your child’s vitamin D level falls into the normal range, make sure he or she spends enough time outdoors to keep it that way. Sunlight is still the best source of vitamin D.
Nutraingredients.com. “Bone density blow for vitamin D.”
CNN Health. “Vitamin D deficiency common in U.S. children”.