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The young age of children is synonymous with a lot of metabolic activity that needs to be fuelled with the right nutrition for them. All of these come together in ensuring the rapid and appropriate development of the body as well as various internal organs and functions needed for leading a good life. Vitamin A is one of those elements that many parents take good care of and ensure their child has the necessary amounts of it. But is there something as too much vitamin A? Let’s find out.
Benefits of Vitamin A for Children
The benefits of vitamin A are tremendous since it affects a lot of areas of the child’s development. Vitamin A acts by:
- Boosting and strengthening the immune system of a developing child
- Assisting the growth of various membranes and tissues in the body and keeping them healthy
- Promoting sharp eyesight and a strong vision by playing an important part in the growth of the retina (Vitamin A is known as retinol)
- Rapidly repairing processes within the body and outside, helping tissue regeneration and healing of wounds actively.
- Affecting the growth of bones, teeth, and various tissues, to ensure proper physical and structural development.
Optimum Level of Vitamin A Intake Per Day for Children
The recommended dietary allowance of vitamin A for a child varies for each one. However, there are certain optimum levels that are decided for children based on their age.
- For infants that are less than 3 years old, 300 mcg of vitamin A on a daily basis is considered optimum.
- For kids that are at least 4 years old and at the most 8 years old, 400 mcg of vitamin A daily is recommended.
- For children that are more than 9 years old but less than 14 years old, 600 mcg of vitamin A is essential for the continued development of health.
Vitamin A Rich Food Sources
When it comes to vitamins, Vitamin A is one of those that can be easily found in a variety of foods since most of them are rich in it. These are:
- Green leafy vegetables: Most of the vegetables that have a dark green colour or are even dark red or orange in colour are usually pretty good sources of vitamin A. This is why spinach is highly recommended for kids.
- Another popular vegetable that has copious amounts of vitamin A is a carrot. Beta-carotene is a substance that is termed as a precursor for retinol. Including carrots on a regular basis in salads or in other food, preparations are considered a good practice.
- Kids should be encouraged to drink milk on a daily basis since it has lots of vitamin A. Other milk based items such as cheese, or even eggs, are also great sources of the same.
- For non-vegetarians, opting for various meat products, fishes, and cod liver oil brings vitamin A to their body. The consumption amount of these should be kept limited, however.
Can Kids Take Vitamin A Supplements?
Generally, a well-balanced diet should provide your kid with the necessary proportion of vitamin A that is essential for his development. In some cases, supplements could also be opted for to support the levels of vitamin A.
- Vitamin A supplements are usually available in the form of tablets that are supposed to be chewed. Child-friendly supplements usually come in a variety of flavours that suit young kids.
- Refer to the information on the tablet to know the amount of vitamin A it contains. Make sure the dosage is precisely geared depending on the need of your child and his age.
- It is best to get your doctor’s agreement on the supplement and its dosage as well.
Is Excess Intake of Vitamin A Harmful for Children?
Just because a particular vitamin is healthy, does not mean you can have endless amounts of it without harm. Most of the vitamin A that is consumed from food sources is rarely toxic since the body ends up storing the excessive vitamin. However, this exact function can be dangerous if vitamin A proportions enter an unsafe region, resulting in:
- A feeling of nausea that seems to stem from the stomach
- Repetitive vomiting and bouts of diarrhoea
- Severe damage to the liver
- Reduction in bone density which could cause osteoporosis
- Rare cases where vitamin consumption becomes fatal
What is Considered Extreme Intake of Vitamin A Intake
Although the optimum levels for each kid as per his age have been mentioned above, there is a threshold above which vitamin A can be harmful to a child.
In kids less than 3 years old, this should not cross 600 mcg. For children that are between 4 years old to 8 years old, the safety threshold for them is around 900 mcg. Giving any kind of vitamin A supplement that pushes the levels beyond the safety limit can be quite harmful.
What if a Child has Vitamin A Deficiency
Although in today’s age, the deficiency of vitamin A is a rarity, but there are cases when such scenarios have been observed, especially in the absence of the right diet.
- An absence of variety in the food items being consumed could result in a potential deficiency.
- Vitamin A deficiency can cause problems with eyesight and even unhealthy skin.
- The corrective measures required in such cases is to quickly resort to supplements and get the diet back on track.
Vitamin A for toddlers, infants, and children of all ages brings tons of benefits but only when consumed in the amounts as deemed optimum and safe for each kid. Development and healthy growth are key for all children and ensuring that, too, doesn’t go overboard are where parents need to be extra careful.
Also Read: Vitamin C for Kids