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30 minutes of daily sunlight can help children strengthen their bones & prevent rickets

There are certain foods like fish and mushrooms that parents can incorporate into their kid’s diets to supplement vitamin D, say experts

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India is a tropical country that gets sunlight all year round. And yet various studies throw up some startling numbers. Did you know that there is a high frequency of low blood levels of vitamin D in Indians? News reports suggest that depending on the cut-off used and the population studied, the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency varies from 17 to 90 per cent across the country.

The reports also say that deficiency appears to be more prevalent in cities than villages; more in the North than in the South. There is a reason for the same. According to Dr Jatinder Singh, Child Specialist & Neonatologist and a Professor at Punjab Institute of Medical Sciences, Jalandhar while the country may get sunlight throughout the year, sadly people in cities remain indoors during the day.


In school-going kids, exposure to sunlight is less, therefore parents can give their children foods like mushrooms, eggs, tofu, and whole-fat cow milk

Dr Jatinder Singh, Child Specialist & Neonatologist and a Professor at Punjab Institute of Medical Sciences, Jalandhar and parent of students from Apeejay School, Model Town

“The best time for the body to soak up vitamin D from the sun is between 11 am to 3 pm. This is the time when people, especially children, are in their classrooms. There is very little chance that kids can get the much-needed sunlight,” Dr Singh stressed, whose children — Praatik Kauldhar (Class VIII) and Lovroop Kaur (Class II) study in Apeejay School, Model Town in Jalandhar.

While he said that the best way to absorb vitamin D is sunlight, there are certain naturally occurring foods that parents can give to their kids. “Vitamin D is necessary for the proper growth of children and helps build immunity. Recent studies have also found that Vitamin D is closely associated with cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers, autoimmune diseases, and infectious diseases,” Dr Singh said.

So much so that many experts now believe that Vitamin D (especially with biological activities of 1, 25(OH) 2D3) should be considered a hormone rather than one of the conventional nutritional vitamins.

“Whether a child suffers from vitamin D deficiency depends on the source and how often the child gets the supplement. An infant up to age one has to compulsorily get vitamin D supplements. In school-going children, sunlight exposure is less; this means that while few parents ensure that their kid gets proper vitamin D supplement, most end up with low vitamin D. There are a few things that parents can do,” Dr Singh recommended.

Dr Singh advises parents to give their children at least two eggs every day. “I suggest that parents incorporate at least two eggs a day in their kids’ diet. If they are vegetarian, whole-fat cow milk, yogurt, and even paneer can be made a part of the well-balanced diet,” he said.

Dr Ankit Prasad, senior consultant, Department of Paediatrics & Neonatology, Fortis Hospital, Noida said that deficiency of vitamin D in children can lead to rickets – bow-legged disease. “We have been some kids who have bow legs; this is due to vitamin deficiency. Vitamin D is also needed to strengthen the bones which are very important in growing children,” Dr Prasad said.


Vitamin D is needed to strengthen the bones which are very important in growing children 

Dr Ankit Prasad, senior consultant, Department of Paediatrics & Neonatology, Fortis Hospital, Noida

“However, depending on the condition of the child, the dosage may have to be increased. In adults, who suffer from vitamin D deficiency, once they have taken a course of 6 lakh IU, they need to take it again after four-fiver years. It is also necessary to be out in the sun for at least 20 minutes a day,” Dr Prasad said in conclusion.

Shalini is an Executive Editor with Apeejay Newsroom. With a PG Diploma in Business Management and Industrial Administration and an MA in Mass Communication, she was a former Associate Editor with News9live. She has worked on varied topics - from news-based to feature articles.

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