D is for “darned well better have enough”

Parents of young children may not be a high percentage of Healthy by Nature radio listeners or readers of this newsletter. However, I’ll bet most have family and friends whom they can bless with helpful information about children.

This week I was interviewed by Mike Triem of KLTT radio in Colorado about preparing kids nutritionally for going back to school. (That short interview will air Friday, Aug 10th, 2018 at 4:45 & 10:45pm on KLTT.) The conversation got me to thinking.

Vitamin D came to mind first.

  • Of course, vitamin D is critical for developing strong bones. But, it is also necessary for building a vigorous immune system. (It seems highly likely that the diminished sunshine in winter is a key factor in the colds and flu having a “season”.) D is also important for maintaining normal weight and lung function, avoiding mood problems, and preventing both diabetes and dental cavities. Children with ADD/ADHD typically have low levels of vitamin D. A small but remarkable study shows that high doses of vitamin D markedly reduced the symptoms of autism in ¾ of the subjects! Blood levels of 40-100 were needed for the positive effect.
  • Nature’s original plan was for kids to make vitamin D when sun contacts their skin. A recent study in England showed that the average child spends just 7 hours a week outdoors and that 40% of parents must force their video-gamer children to leave the house. I doubt it is much different in the US. When kids do go outdoors, careful parents slather them with sunscreen that blocks vitamin D formation.

Foods basically do not provide vitamin D. Milk is usually fortified with small amounts of vitamin D2. That form is only about ½ as useful as the vitamin D3 in supplements. And, what about kids that do not tolerate milk? Dark skin is a natural sun block, so it is more difficult for them to achieve adequate blood levels of D.

  • Government supplement guidelines limit vitamin D for kids to 400-600 IU a day. That amount may be enough to avoid the deficiency disease, Rickets. A much greater amount would be needed to achieve the other benefits mentioned in the first bullet point. This journal article recommends as much as 3,000 IU/a day for children. It makes sense that they can handle more when you consider that the side effect of excess vitamin D (exceeding rare) is too much calcium. Kid’s bones are growing fast and using up calcium at a high rate. Note, the mineral magnesium is required for the proper utilization of vitamin D.

Next week, I will continue this discussion about sending kids back to school with a better chance for health and success with another nutrient.

 



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