Category Archives: vitamins

Are your children and teens getting enough vitamin D?

Vitamin D:  it helps build strong bones, may be protective of some diseases both now and in later life, and very few people get enough of it.

Generally, you hear about vitamin D in relation to milk (it often has vitamin D added to it) and time in the sunlight because UV rays trigger vitamin D production.

However, nearly everyone is short of the recommended dosages of vitamin D.  This time of year, for example, there is precious little sunshine, and on sunny days we apply sunscreen to prevent the skin damage and sunburn those same UV rays cause.  As much as we promote sunscreen for those very good reasons, it limits the production of vitamin D in our bodies.

The only way for most of us to get all the vitamin D we need is through supplements.  They are inexpensive, easily available, and easy to administer.

An article by the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) announces their new recommendations that all ages should take vitamin D supplements to ensure bone and immune system health, both now and in the future.

  • Infants.  Since breast milk doesn’t usually contain enough vitamin D, a supplement of 400 IU (international units) is recommended daily for breastfed babies.  The recommendation is the same for formula-fed babies, unless they are receiving 32 ounces of formula per day (formulas contain vitamin D).  Liquid supplements are best for infants.
  • Children.  By the age of three, when children can chew hard foods, a chewable multivitamin that contains 400 IU of vitamin D is the daily recommendation.  If your child is drinking 32 ounces of vitamin-fortified milk each day, she should be getting enough vitamin D without a supplement.
  • Teens.  The recommendation holds for teens:  400 IU of vitamin D daily, whether through diet (though few get enough through food alone) or supplement.

Remember to keep all supplements and medications out of reach for a child.

Build a stronger skeletal and immune system now, and let your child reap the benefits both now and later.

© MBS Writing Services, 2015

Vitamin K: a very necessary injection for newborns

An injection of vitamin K for newborns has been recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) since 1961.  Routinely, it is given a few hours after birth for the prevention of very serious bleeding.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has produced an online brochure describing the need for a vitamin K injection.

According to the brochure, babies are born with a vitamin K deficiency because they have not yet developed the good bacteria in their digestive tract that produce the vitamin, and they can’t get enough of it from their mother’s milk or while they are in the uterus.  Since vitamin K is essential in the clotting of blood, babies can get what is called vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB).  VKDB is very dangerous.  “Without enough vitamin K, your baby has a chance of bleeding into his or her intestines, and brain, which can lead to brain damage and even death. Infants who do not receive the vitamin K shot at birth can develop VKDB up to 6 months of age.  The good news is that VKDB is easily prevented. The easiest and most reliable way to give babies vitamin K is by a shot into a muscle in the leg. One shot given after birth will protect your baby from VKDB.”

Are there any dangers?  One 20-year-old study seemed to find a link between vitamin K injections and childhood cancers.  However, follow up studies have never been able to show such a link.  (Read the CDC’s brochure for more detail.)

This is an essential, one-time  injection that could save your baby’s life.

© 2014 MBS Writing Services, all rights reserved.

Calcium for teens

You might think that once your son or daughter hits older childhood and puberty, the need for calcium drops.

Actually, the opposite is true.  The recommended daily allowance (RDA) increases to 1300 mg of calcium for children and teens aged 9-18.  Essential bone growth and development are continuing in these years, and it’s important to lay a strong foundation with calcium.  Calcium in the teen years can help stave off osteoporosis in later life.  Unfortunately, many adolescents, especially girls, don’t receive enough calcium to meet the RDA.

Another important note:  our bones stop absorbing calcium in our early 20s, so you are “banking” the calcium you take as a teen for later years.  That doesn’t mean you no longer need calcium after your teenage years, but it does highlight the importance of getting the right amount of calcium while the bones are still absorbing it.

What are good sources of calcium?  There are two:  food and supplements.

Milk and milk products are the best food source, with skim milk providing all 1300 mg in 4 ½ eight ounce glasses per day.  Not everyone likes milk, and some can’t drink it because of lactose intolerance.

The American  Academy of Pediatrics lists these other food sources for calcium:

  • “Most foods in the milk group: milk and dishes made with milk, such as puddings and soups.
  • Cheeses: mozzarella, cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan, cottage cheese.
  • Yogurt.
  • Canned fish with soft bones, including sardines, anchovies, salmon.
  • Dark-green leafy vegetables, such as kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, bok-choy.
  • Tofu, if processed with calcium sulfate.
  • Tortillas made from lime-processed corn.
  • Calcium-fortified juice, bread, cereal.”

Supplements are a good option, but be sure that any calcium supplement also contains vitamin D which aids in calcium absorption.  A daily multivitamin does NOT provide enough calcium to meet the RDA.  Don’t take all the supplements at once.  It’s best to take part of the supplement in the morning and part later in the day.  Check with your pediatrician for additional recommendations.

As you teach your teens to build strong life skills, don’t forget to help them build strong bones as well.

artwork by Audrey

artwork by Audrey

© 2013, MBS Writing Services, all rights reserved