I think in my post on vitamin D I may have made it sound as if Mark and I are sitting around flagellating ourselves about Bisi’s diagnosis. We’re not. I do think it’s natural when a child gets sick to wonder if you could have done something—anything--to prevent it. But we quickly moved past that. We don’t have time to worry about it, and there’s no point anyway. A lot of what we’re doing now—trying to cook in a healthy, low carb, low sugar way, giving her vitamin D and other supplements to support her lingering pancreatic function, trying to get her to be as active as possible as a way to manage her blood sugar—we see as proactive ways to keep her as healthy as we can.
But because vitamin D appears to have some benefit for so many potential conditions, I wanted to pass along some more information—some of it came to me in comments on the vitamin D piece (a version of which was posted on The Atlantic’s Web site); and some just didn’t fit into my initial post.
The Vitamin D Council has links to studies about vitamin D’s potential benefits, and also information about how to calculate dosage. Essentially, they recommend that healthy children over a year old should get 1,000 IUs for every 25 pounds of body weight; adolescents and adults, they say, should get at least 5,000 IUs. This is SIGNIFICANTLY higher than the U.S.’s recommended daily allowance. Of course, the sun is the strongest and best source of vitamin D. If you’re fair skinned and go outside in shorts and a t-shirt on a sunny summer day at noon, you can get 10,000 IUs of vitamin D in ten minutes, according to a good article on the topic in US News. This is why some pediatricians are recommending that children spend 15 minutes outside before they get slathered with sunscreen. But, again, you could spend all day outside on a sunny October day in Boston and get no vitamin D, because, as explained in that same article, the “sun never gets high enough in the sky for its ultraviolet B rays to penetrate the atmosphere.”
If you are giving your child (or yourself) a lot of vitamin D, you should get them tested to make sure you’re not giving them too much. There are two types of tests; but the most accurate marker of vitamin D levels in the blood is the 25-hydroxyvitamin D test.
Finally, if you want to know more and veer towards alternative medicine and natural health information, you might be interested in this trove of information on vitamin D.
Bisi’s endocrinologist mentioned that we should give her D3 (cholecalciferol), rather than D2, since at high doses the latter is less potent. You can get this anywhere; we’ve found a couple of kinds we like at Whole Foods: Kal D-3 2000 IU chewables (we like this one, because she gets her whole requirement with one sugarless, carb-less little cinnamon-flavored pill) and Jarrow Formulas Yum-Yum D-3 gummies (400 IUs per chew; Bisi prefers this one, because it tastes like candy—we prefer not to give her the empty carbs, but don’t always win this battle). With this--as with all things in parenting—we have to choose our battles; and I have a feeling that in managing as complicated a disease as T1D we are going to find that compromising with Bisi where we can is going to be an important and necessary tool.