vitamin d consumption in infantsA recent study published in Pediatric Obesity found that an adequate amount of vitamin D in a child’s first year of life may increase muscle mass and decrease body fat in toddlers.
Scientists in Quebec, Canada assessed data involving 132 infants who were given a vitamin D3 supplement between the ages of one month and 12 months. The infants were given one of four possible dosages in order to find out if more or less vitamin D3 made a difference on bone health and muscle and fat quantities.
Hope Weiler, director of the Mary Emily Clinical Nutrition Research Unit at McGill University in Canada and researcher on the case said of the results, “We were very intrigued by the higher lean mass, the possibility that vitamin D can help infants to not only grow healthy skeletons but also healthy amounts of muscle and less fat,”
The researchers used body scans to measure the children’s muscle and fast mass as well as take a look at their bone density. They found that children with more vitamin D stores in their body had an average 450 grams less body fat by age three.
Vitamin D Supplementation Recommended for Babies
Parents of infants are generally recommended to supplement vitamin D to their infant during the first year. Scientists conducting this study confirmed the recommendations of 400 iu per day during a baby’s first year for strong bone development, which include the teeth.
Doses beyond 400 iu per day did not show any extra bone development advantages or improvement.
Scientists noted only one other factor which made a major difference in the body fat of the children and that was their level of physical activity.
Vitamin D Correlated with More than Healthy Bones
In this study, researchers have found that while vitamin D is important for healthy bone development it is also important in children for healthy muscle mass and body fat.
In addition, other recent studies have shown that Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to children with type 1 diabetes and that adequate vitamin D might also help with fighting off insulin resistance.
Calcium is known to be crucial for healthy bones but without sufficient vitamin D, calcium is not properly absorbed by the body.
The National Institutes of Health states that vitamin D is also necessary for “modulation of cell growth, neuromuscular and immune function, and reduction of inflammation [1,3,4].” Also, “many genes encoding proteins that regulate cell proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis are modulated in part by vitamin D .”
Children Low on Vitamin D, Too
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons states several reasons why children today may suffer from vitamin D inefficiency through less sunlight and dietary exposure:
Children today spend hours in front of a computer or a television, rather than playing outdoors.
Few children walk to school on a regular basis.
Many popular sports, such as basketball, volleyball, and gymnastics, are indoor sports.
Milk intake by children has steadily decreased in favor of soda or juice.
There are many supplements that can provide vitamin D in different forms; however the one most recommended by experts is vitamin D3 which is best absorbed by the body. Vitamin D3 was also the form used in the study with the infants.
James Achanyi-Fontem, is a Senior Health Journalist and Communication Consultant. He worked as a health journalist and broadcaster for 30 years with Radio Cameroon and later Cameroon Radio Television, CRTV before retiring in 2005 to engage fully with Cameroon Link (Human Assistance Programme). Cameroon Link is a registered charity, not-for-profit organisation involved in the promotion of community health, humanitarian assistance, promotion of women and child rights through involvement of communities in Cameroon for mother and child health care. Cameroon Link is a partner to Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Farm Radio International (FRI), International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN Africa), World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA). As the intermediary of Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Cameroon Link is engaged to implement a Cameroon Rural Radio story design Programming through an investigative research, which aims to discover through interviewing beneficiaries of health programmes on their interests, documenting and disseminating new ideas about how radio stations produce and air Healthy Communities Radio Programs in Cameroon.