Uncovering Vitamin D Myths: What Parents Need to Know for Children's Health - Hindustan Times
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Uncovering Vitamin D Myths: What Parents Need to Know for Children's Health

Published on Nov 28, 2023 07:04 PM IST

Paediatrician Dr. Madhavi Bharadwaj shares her views on the myths surrounding Vitamin D and underscores the importance of this vitamin in children.

It is imperative to address these misconceptions to ensure accurate information flow about Vitamin D in children.
It is imperative to address these misconceptions to ensure accurate information flow about Vitamin D in children.
ByHT Brand Studio

The role of Vitamin D in promoting overall health, extending beyond mere bone mineralisation, has been a topic of widespread discussion. Specifically in children, Vitamin D is not only crucial for developing strong bones but also plays a vital role in supporting their well-being.

However, as awareness and supplementation efforts have increased, a number of myths surrounding the 'sunshine vitamin' have emerged. It is imperative to address these misconceptions to ensure accurate information flow about Vitamin D in children. Let us now debunk some of the common myths associated with Vitamin D.

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Myth #1: Diet is enough
It is a common misconception that if children have a well-rounded diet, they do not need supplementation of Vitamin D.

While dietary sources such as fish (mackerel, salmon), fish oils, egg yolk, plants, and mushrooms, provide Vitamin D, the consumption is not enough portions in children’s routine diet to meet the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin D. Therefore the role of fortified dairy products and supplementation can not be overlooked in children.

For more information about Vitamin D do check out Nutricheck App on the TJK website.
For more information about Vitamin D do check out Nutricheck App on the TJK website.

Myth #2: Sun is the ultimate source

While it's undeniable that endogenous Vitamin D synthesis in human skin in the presence of sunlight is a crucial source of this essential vitamin, the process is influenced by many factors.

Dr. Madhavi Bharadwaj explores the intricacies surrounding Vitamin D synthesis, shedding light on elements such as time of the day, duration, area exposed, sunscreen application, latitude, cloud cover, and pollution. Let’s look at a few points that should be kept in mind when exposing your children’s skin to the sun:

  • Subah Shaam Ki Dhoop (early morning and evening sun) is not ideal when it comes to Vitamin D synthesis. The UVB rays that are crucial for the synthesis are most effective between 11 am to 2 pm.
  • 10 to 50 minutes of UVB exposure every day, depending on the skin pigmentation, season, latitude, and other factors, should suffice.
  • Higher skin pigmentation may require a longer duration of sun exposure to produce the same amount of the vitamin compared to their less pigmented counterparts.
  • Excessive exposure to sunlight does not increase vitamin D production as pre-vitamin D3 is degraded into inert products and vitamin D3 photo-isomerizes to suprasterol and inert products.

Myth #3: The more vitamin D you take, the better

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble compound and when consumed in excess is stored in fat cells of the body. In situations where these fat cells become saturated, or in lean and thin individuals with limited adipose tissue, it can lead to Vitamin D toxicity, defined by serum levels exceeding 150 ng/mL.

This excess can result in hypercalcemia, characterised by an abundance of calcium in the blood. Anorexia, vomiting, renal insufficiency, hypertension, renal stones, and failure to thrive are some features of hypervitaminosis D.

That is why Dr. Bharadwaj strongly advises that Vitamin D supplementation in childrenshould be carried out under the supervision of a medical professional.

Myth #4: Vitamin D causes kidney stones

One of the many myths about Vitamin D supplementation is that it causes stone formation in the kidneys. However, this is not the norm.

Vitamin D together with parathyroid hormone balances calcium and phosphate homeostasis to optimise bone and muscle health. Only when consumed in excess, in predisposed individuals, or without a doctor’s supervision, may lead to hypercalcemia and hypervitaminosis D which may cause stone formation.

Myth #5: Vitamin D intake and higher skin pigmentation are correlated

Contrary to popular belief, there is no proven correlation between Vitamin D intake and skin tanning. This myth likely arose due to the requirement for sun exposure to synthesise Vitamin D.

Vitamin D requires hardly 10 to 30 min in the sun most days a week. Whereas prolonged and intensive sun exposure would lead to tanning. So, it would be unwise to correlate tanning or skin darkening with Vitamin D supplementation or intake.

Conclusion

A well-rounded approach involving diet, exposure to the sun (specifically UVB rays), food fortification, and supervised supplementation serves as essential sources for ensuring adequate Vitamin D levels in the body. Dr. Bharadwaj advises addressing doubts about Vitamin D, relying on well-sourced information, and consulting with a healthcare professional to safeguard your and your children’s healthand well-being.

For more information about Vitamin D do check out Nutricheck App on the TJK website. (www.tayyarijeetki.in)

(The views expressed here are of Dr. Madhavi Bharadwaj, MD Paeds, MAMC, Delhi, and Allergist, CMC, Vellore)

Disclaimer:This article is a promotional feature and does not have journalistic/editorial involvement of Hindustan Times. Readers are advised to consult a registered medical practitioner.

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