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Ask a Pediatrician: Sunscreen, Kids, and Vitamin D Deficiency

Is your child getting enough vitamin D? Recent research suggests that many children are deficient in vitamin D due to diet and lack of sufficient sun exposure. But too much sun poses additional health risks such as skin cancer. What’s the right thing to do? 
Making sure your children get all the nutrients they need can seem like a daunting task, especially for picky eaters. But it’s not as difficult as it seems. Here are some of the most common questions parents ask their pediatrician about vitamin D and answers from experts at Advocare Haddon Pediatric Group. 




How much vitamin D does my child need?


Babies who are breastfed or drinking less than 32 oz of formula  should receive a supplement of at least 400 IU of vitamin D. Babies who drink at least 32 ounces of formula per day are usually receiving enough vitamin D in their formula.

Do children’s vitamins contain enough vitamin D for my child’s daily needs?


Most children’s daily supplement vitamins contain at least 400 IU of vitamin D if the correct dosage is taken every day. Read the label to make sure the vitamins you are giving your kids contain enough. 

What are the negative effects of a vitamin D deficiency? 


A vitamin D deficiency can lead to weak bones and an increase in the risk of bone fractures. Rickets, a bone softening disease, is another condition resulting from a lack of vitamin D. Vitamin D is necessary for the proper absorption and retention of calcium, which is a nutrient that is required for bone health. 

Does sunscreen prevent my child from getting adequate vitamin D?

Sunscreen, when applied generously over any exposed skin, may prevent the body from getting the required amount of sun exposure to ensure proper vitamin D synthesis. The American Academy of Pediatrics(AAP) does not recommend exposing children to sun exposure for the purpose of getting Vitamin D. Cumulative exposures to sunlight without wearing sunscreen increases your child’s risk for skin cancer later in life. The AAP instead recommends that children get their Vitamin D from their diet (primarily, milk) or in a supplemental vitamin. 

Do the risks of not wearing sunscreen outweigh the need for vitamin D?


Currently, experts believe that the benefits of sunscreen outweigh the risks. This issue of sunscreen and vitamin D deficiency has been debated by dermatologists and oncologists who have questioned whether or not the risk of skin cancer is increased enough by the required exposure to the sun to outweigh the benefit of vitamin D synthesis. Currently, it is recommended that children wear sunscreen whenever they may be exposed to sunlight. 

Are there certain sunscreen products that are better to use? 

A minimum of SPF 30 sunscreen is advised, but the higher the SPF the more UVA and UVB rays are being blocked from your skin. (UVA rays affect skin aging and wrinkles. UVB rays can cause skin cancer).  Practically though, a sunscreen with an SPF of 30-50 should do fine. Higher SPF sunscreens can be very expensive, but without  added benefit. 


What foods are rich in vitamin D?


If you’re hoping to supplement your child’s daily vitamin D through diet, there are some foods that contain larger quantities than others. Vitamin D occurs naturally in salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna, shiitake mushrooms, and egg yolks. It is added to some foods, like milk, orange juice, cereal, and yogurt. 

Are foods with added vitamin D as effective as foods that contain it naturally? 


While the foods that contain vitamin D naturally have larger quantities of it, foods that contain it as an additive are still good sources. The key is to find foods that your kids will eat that happen to have some extra vitamin D. 

What about adolescents? How much vitamin D do they need?

In adolescence the amount goes up from 400 IU to 600 IU as a daily recommended amount of vitamin D.

What about kids with special needs? Is there any difference in their vitamin D needs?

It is always best to consult your pediatrician about daily vitamin recommendations if your child has special needs. Children on certain medications or children with cystic fibrosis may need a higher amount of vitamin D. 

Still Have Concerns About Vitamin D Deficiency?

If you’re still not sure how to make sure your child is getting enough vitamin D, contact your pediatrician at Advocare Haddon Pediatric Group. We would be happy to discuss your concerns with you and help you make any necessary changes to your child’s diet, vitamins, or habits. 
Call (856) 547-4573 to speak with our Haddon Heights office or (856) 241-9944 to speak with our Mullica Hill office.  


Posted: 4/23/2020 4:28:50 PM by Paul Matz | with 0 comments

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