Sources of Vitamin D for Kids

Vitamin D – found in fatty fish, sunlight and supplements – is a vital nutrient for growing children as it supports strong bone growth and boosts the immune system.* Learn more about Vitamin D for kids, see how much they should take, and which children’s vitamins contain it.

What is Vitamin D?

First things first: what is Vitamin D? In the most technical terms, Vitamin D3 is not actually a vitamin at all, but, instead, a hormone that’s made in the skin when exposed to ultraviolet (“UVB”) light.

There are three key ways for the body to get vitamin D:

  • The sun
  • Certain foods
  • Supplements such as a children’s or adult multivitamin

While the easiest and most abundant source of Vitamin D is the good ol’ sun, there are many factors that can affect one’s ability to absorb vitamin D including living in geographic locations that don’t see the sun very much, age, or seasons (Vitamin D production tends to lag during winter months). 

Can Kids Take Vitamin D?

Yes, kids can take Vitamin D, and it’s a good idea in many cases. Despite being able to get vitamin D from the sun, as mentioned above, some children may risk a deficiency based on a couple of factors:

Skin color: kids with darker skin require more sunlight to get adequate levels of the hormone

Diet: if your kid is a picky eater, shies away from foods that are high in vitamin D, or if they are restricted from certain foods, they might not be getting enough vitamin D in their diet.

Medicines: some meds prescribed by your child’s pediatrician may slow or interfere with the body’s absorption of vitamin D.

If you have any questions around whether or not you or your child should be taking vitamin D, we encourage you to reach out to your pediatrician or medical health care provider with questions.

Vitamin D Foods for Kids

As we said, there are foods that contain Vitamin D naturally, but very few of them provide sufficient quantities needed for growing bodies. Foods that contain vitamin D include cod liver oil, fatty fish like salmon and tuna, liver, egg yolks, and fish oils.

Be honest: are those common items on your child’s dinner plate? If so, great! But if you’re like most parents, your picky eater might not reach for liver so you may want to talk with your child’s pediatrician and/or health care provider about supplementing with Vitamin D for them to hit their daily requirements.

Benefits of Vitamin D

Everyone needs Vitamin D in their diet, especially kids, whether you’re getting it naturally or not.

Builds Strong Bones

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Vitamin D works by stimulating calcium and phosphorus absorption, which is one of the ways it helps build strong bones in kids. Vitamin D is also needed for bone growth. You can read all the details here to learn about these vitamins for bones.

Immune System Support

In regulating the immune response, Vitamin D plays an exceptionally large role in keeping kids healthy.

Learn more about vitamins for kids’ immune systems.

How Much Vitamin D for Kids?

As always, a conversation with your child’s healthcare provider is the best way to understand how much of, well, anything they should have, and that includes Vitamin D supplements. In general and according to the National Academy of Medicine, babies younger than one year need 400 IU of vitamin D a day (usually coming from infant formula or vitamin D drops as recommended by a pediatrician or health care provider). Kids older than 1 year need 600 IU or more of vitamin D daily.

Vitamin D is fat-soluble, which means the body stores and uses vitamin D – or any fat-soluble nutrient – as needed. This means it’s important to make sure your body has enough throughout the year, especially when your body’s pulling from ‘the reserves’ more in the winter months when kids aren’t out in the sun as much.

Is Too Much Vitamin D Bad for a Child?

As with any supplement, there can be too much of a good thing. While rare, in the case of vitamin D and other fat-soluble nutrients, you actually can get too much from either diet or sun exposure.

Vitamin D toxicity can increase blood calcium levels, which can result in issues such as:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Increased thirst
  • Abdominal pain
  • Confusion
  • Apathy

If you or your child is showing any of the above symptoms, please contact a medical professional immediately.

Vitamin D Supplements for Kids

When shopping for Vitamin D, keep an eye out for the premium form Vitamin D3 because it’s what your body prefers and can easily use. It’s also the form you’ll find in all SmartyPants supplements and multivitamins for kids. A daily dose of SmartyPants Kids Formula gummies have everything your child needs to grow and stay healthy.

*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.