Vitamin D can be found in foods such as fatty fish, eggs and fortified milk and orange juice. Most of the vitamin D that people get is manufactured in the skin after exposure to the sun. Due to concerns about skin cancer, your child may not spend very much time in the sun. If his diet is not providing him with adequate levels of vitamin D, a vitamin D3 supplement may help raise his levels. Before giving your child any supplement or vitamin, talk to a pediatrician for advice.
Recommended Daily Allowance
As of April 2011, the recommendation is that children receive 200 International Units, or IU, of vitamin D per day. This is the same as 5 mcg. According to MayoClinic.com, a child over the age of one should not receive more than 2,000 IU daily, and a baby under the age of one should not receive over 1,000 IU per day. Read the label on the bottle of vitamin D3 carefully, as the supplement comes in many different strengths.
Vitamin D Deficiency
While the recommendation is for children to receive 200 IU of vitamin D daily, children with a vitamin D deficiency may require much more vitamin D3 to raise their levels. Because children grow quickly, they may be more likely to become deficient than adults. One strategy is to give them high doses of vitamin D3, up to 14,000 IU per week, or 2,000 IU per day. This amount may be enough to raise a child's blood serum level and eliminate a deficiency. This should be done only under the care and supervision of a physician.
Adequate vitamin D levels may make it less likely that your child will catch the seasonal flu, notes the National Institutes of Health. Other benefits to your child include a boosted immune system, a reduced chance of developing rickets and better absorption of calcium, which is important for bone health. Vitamin D supplementation may also reduce the chance that your child will develop cancer or multiple sclerosis.
It is possible to overdose on vitamin D3, because it is stored in the fat in the body. Some symptoms of overdose include nausea, vomiting, a metallic taste in the mouth, loss of appetite, headache and fatigue. If your child has kidney disease or high levels of calcium in the body, high levels of vitamin D3 may exacerbate the condition. If your child is on any prescription or over-the-counter medications, check with your doctor or pharmacist, as vitamin D3 may interact with certain medications or additives.