Bone health is of primal importance during childhood. Not only is this the period in one’s life where bones are actively growing and developing, but this is also the time when you are building up your bones to ensure good bone health in your senior years.
Adequate levels of vitamin D in the bloodstream are essential for the development of strong, healthy bones and teeth. In fact, a deficiency in vitamin D can result in a childhood disease called rickets, where bones become soft and deformed. It was infrequent to hear of this disease a few decades ago as most children were getting an abundance of vitamin D while playing outside in the sun. Depending on where you live, it can be very difficult for children to play outdoors consistently. As a result, many children are getting much less time in the sun and consequently, less vitamin D. Some researchers express concern about a global re-emergence of rickets disease in children.1 Rickets cases are seen particularly in children who live in northern areas, who are dark-skinned, or who are breastfed without appropriate vitamin D supplementation.2,3 Supplementation with vitamin D is recommended for all breastfed infants, and often recommended beyond infancy to support bone and teeth development.1
Children fall. It is inevitable. Healthy bones in children are important for the wear and tear during these tumbles. Insufficient vitamin D levels are associated with higher bone fractures in children.4
Vitamin D is important during childhood to support healthy bone development, but it is also important for keeping bones strong some thirty, forty or fifty years later in life. Approximately 90% of bone growth takes place between the ages of 10 and 20 or 30 years.5,6 During this period, a person’s bones will reach its peak density. Denser bones are a definite benefit because we start losing some of it in our later years. For women, bone loss mostly occurs rapidly immediately after menopause and then the rate of bone loss slows down.7 If too much bone density is lost, this increases the risk of osteoporosis and of bone fractures. Osteoporosis has been referred to as “a pediatric disease with geriatric consequences” 5.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, Health Canada and the Canadian Pediatric Society recommend that all exclusively breastfed, healthy, term infants receive 400 IU vitamin D per day and those over 1 receive 600 IU.8,9,10 The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends an intake of 800 IU vitamin D per day for northern Native communities during the winter months.11
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Natalie Bourré is a Ddrops Guest Blogger. She is a mom of 4 young children, health writer and social media consultant who is passionate about promoting good health for the entire family. She is keen to share scientific information about about vitamin D in an easy to understand fashion. She also truly listens to people’s input and as such, she welcomes you to connect, discuss and share your questions and feedback with her on our social media accounts.
- J Clin Invest. 2006 Aug 1; 116(8): 2062–2072. Resurrection of vitamin D deficiency and rickets, Michael F. Holick
- 2007 Jul 17; 177(2): 161–166. Vitamin D–deficiency rickets among children in Canada Leanne M. Ward, MD, Isabelle Gaboury, MSc, Moyez Ladhani, MD, and Stanley Zlotkin, MD PhD
- Am J Clin NutrDecember 2004 80 no. 6 1697S-1705S, Nutritional rickets among children in the United States: review of cases reported between 1986 and 2003, Pamela Weisberg, Kelley S Scanlon, Ruowei Li, and Mary E Cogswell
- J Pediatr Orthop.2015 Nov 16. Vitamin D Insufficiency and Fracture Risk in Urban Children. Thompson RM1, Dean DM, Goldberg S, Kwasny MJ, Langman CB, Janicki JA.
- Hightower L., Osteoporosis: pediatric disease with geriatric consequences, Orthop Nurs.2000 Sep-Oct;19(5):59-62.
- NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center, Kids and Their Bones, March 2015, http://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/bone/bone_health/juvenile/default.asp
- NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center, Peak Bone Mass in Women, June 2015, http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Osteoporosis/bone_mass.asp
- American Academy of Pediatrics, Vitamin D Supplementation for Infants, 3/22/2010, https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/Vitamin-D-Supplementation-for-Infants.aspx
- Health Canada. Vitamin D supplementation for breastfed infants – 2004 Health Canada recommendation.
- Canadian Paediatric Society, POSITION STATEMENT: Vitamin D supplementation: Recommendations for Canadian mothers and infants, January 30 2015. http://www.cps.ca/documents/position/vitamin-d
- Canadian Paediatric Society, First Nations and Inuit Health Committee [Principal author: J Godel]. Vitamin D supplementation in northern Native communities. Paediatr Child Health 2002;7:459-63.