Getting enough vitamin D is especially important for growing kids, because it is involved in bone growth, bone density and bone strength, and in growth itself. Vitamin D also appears to have other health benefits.

What are some reasons for low vitamin D levels?

💚 You might not be feeling well and that can lead to not eating well

💙 You might not be eating foods that are fortified with vitamin D or regularly taking a vitamin D supplement

💚 You might be practicing good sun safety to prevent skin cancer (a good thing to do!) and this blocks ultraviolet rays that stimulate the body's production of vitamin D

💙 You might be a patient with Crohn's disease who has inflammation in the part of their intestines that is responsible for absorbing vitamin D into the body, meaning some vitamin D passes right through without being absorbed.

How much is enough vitamin D?

Currently, kids 1 - 18 years old, who are not vitamin D deficient, should be getting 600 IU (international units) daily for healthy maintenance. This is an increase from the previous recommendation of 400 IU. For patients with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, sometimes more vitamin D may be necessary to correct a deficiency or to ensure enough of the vitamin is absorbed into the body.

Caution: Vitamin D is fat soluble, meaning if you take too much it can build up in your body and become harmful to your health. Make sure you're getting the right amount for you by working with your clinician and/or dietitian to monitor and maintain your vitamin D levels.

Where can you find vitamin D?

A daily multivitamin supplement usually has 400 IU per tablet. Check the nutrition information label to verify the amount contained in the formulation. Vitamin D tablets, capsules and drops are also available if you want to focus just on one specific supplement. Foods you can get vitamin D from, include: fortified milk and yogurt, which usually contain about 100 IU per serving. Some orange juice is fortified with vitamin D, also.

How does vitamin D get absorbed?

Because it is fat soluble, vitamin D needs to be bound to fat to be absorbed into the body. A good tip is to plan to take your supplement with a meal that contains fat. 

Are there different types of vitamin D?

When considering vitamin D supplements you may see two types: D2 and D3. There is evidence to suggest that D3 may be more effective than D2. If you have questions, we recommend discussing this with your clinician and/or dietitian.

Does insurance cover vitamin D?

Some insurance companies may cover vitamin D2 while others cover D3. Check with your provider to see which they cover. If you are purchasing vitamin D supplements over-the-counter, you may be able to pay using a Health Savings Account or a Flex Spending Account.

What do patients say about vitamin D & IBD?

What is an example of vitamin D monitoring?

Jen Smith, a registered dietitian at Nationwide Children's Hospital, says at her center "we check [patients' vitamin D levels] twice yearly (ideally in fall and winter) if normal, and every 2-3 months when low."

Sources:

Comparison of vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 supplementation in raising serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D status: a systematic review and meta-analysis (nih.gov)

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This post was co-produced members of the ICN Registered Dietitian group and the Patient Advisory Council. Do not rely on the information in this document to diagnose or treat any health condition. This information does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Disclaimers posted at improvecarenow.org/icn_tools_disclaimer apply to this document.
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