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Vitamin D3 Deficiency
There is a common misnomer that we can get enough vitamin D3 just from the foods we eat and from the sun. However, large-scale studies find that deficiency is widespread in not just adults, but in children as well.
Due to a variety of circumstances and limitations, many individuals typically can’t and don’t get enough, which is why supplementing with vitamin D3 is important all year long. Vitamin D3 continues to be a “hot” topic, and scientific research is ever increasing regarding it and the crucial role it plays in the health and well-being of infants, children, and adults.
Vitamin D receptors are found everywhere, from immune cells to our brain. Vitamin D promotes healthy growth and development; supports teeth, bone, and muscle health; helps in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus; assists with a healthy immune and cardiovascular system; and aids in a healthier mood. Vitamin D is considered nature’s sunshine vitamin because of our ability to make it in our bodies under proper conditions. Our skin contains a precursor to vitamin D3 called 7-dehydrocholesterol. When the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays shine upon our skin, 7-dehydrocholesterol synthesizes D3, though conditions need to be near perfect for this to occur.
Many children, like adults, do not get enough time in the sun during certain crucial times of the year to make and maintain adequate 25(OH)D levels, and this is true even in the summer months. The 25(OH)D is typically the form of D that is tested in the bloodstream when we go to the doctor. It is the serum form of vitamin D, and the best indicator of vitamin D status. In addition to lack of time in the sun, it is also difficult to synthesize adequate amounts of vitamin D from sunlight due to sunscreens, latitude, time of year, color of skin, etc. Therefore, many should look to supplemental vitamin D to their regimen to help maintain adequate D levels.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) Food and Nutrition Board recommended daily intakes are the official recommendations in the United States. Both America and Canada use the IOM’s most recent recommendations, which are 400 IU (10mcg) / day of vitamin D3 for infants and 600 IU (15mcg) / day for children over 1 years old. Tolerable upper intake level (UL) range is from 1,500 IU (38mcg) / day for infants up to 12 months of age to 3,000 IU (75mcg) / day for children 8 years of age. For adults, the recommendation ranges are from 600 IU (15 mcg) to 800 IU (20mcg) / day. For women who are pregnant or lactating, 600 IU (15mcg) / day is recommended. The UL for older children, adults, and for women who are pregnant or lactating is 4,000 IU (100mcg) / day. The Vitamin D Council, Endocrinology Society, and many physicians often disagree with the IOM. They feel that the IOM recommendations are too low. The IOM and Health Canada state that infants and children below 27.5 nmol/L are deficient, and the Canadian Pediatric Society states that below 25nmol/L is deficiency. In adults, normal range for D levels are 75-250 nmol/L.
There are not very many naturally occurring dietary sources of vitamin D. It can be found in oily fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna, as well, as in fish liver oils. Most of our dietary vitamin D comes from fortified foods such as orange juice, non-dairy beverages, egg yolks (from vitamin D supplemented hens), and in some dairy (milk, yogurt, and cheese). In Canada, milk is fortified by law with 35-40 IU/mL, and infant formula is mandated to have fortification of 40-80 IU / 100 kcal. Most infant or children’s multivitamin and mineral formulas typically have 400-600 IU (10-15 mcg) of vitamin D.
Breast milk and formula are sources of vitamin D for babies, but they often don’t provide enough, and sun exposure isn’t typically recommended for babies younger than six months. To make sure your baby gets an adequate amount of vitamin D, a daily supplement like a flavorless liquid drop of vitamin D3 may be the best option to achieve that. Liquid drops of vitamin D3 can be used while breastfeeding or placed in your child’s favorite food or drink. Adult multivitamin and mineral formulas typically contain 400-1,000 IU (10-25mcg) / day of vitamin D. However, additional vitamin D may still be recommended depending on the adult’s vitamin D status.
As we have seen, vitamin D assists with numerous important processes in the body for individuals of all ages. The amount necessary to increase and maintain our D levels is different for everyone and varies throughout the seasons, including summertime. Therefore, many look to a vitamin D3 supplement to maintain optimal levels. Make sure to keep getting your levels tested and adjust accordingly, when necessary, as it takes months to increase levels.
1. Canadian Council For Food and Nutrition
2. National Institute of Health