Essential Vitamins for Children

Children need vitamins too, in health and when ill. In young lads that have cancer for example, attention often tends to be on the crucial issues of making certain that they have an adequate nutrient intake during and after the early treatment period of their treatment1. Research however, shows that their vitamin status is important in other ways for the effective management of their conditions. There is research evidence for example for the effect of vitamin intake and status of a mother before conception and after on the risk of cancer in her infant and child, for a link between vitamin and antioxidant status and the rate and severity of the chemotherapy side effects in children, and for the probable anticancer effect of vitamin D1.

Bone disease is an increasingly recognized complication of cystic fibrosis (CF) including among children, the use of vitamin K increasing in the treatment of CF bone disease, although the recently reported heterogeneity in both vitamin K prescribing practices and bone health surveillance in CF centers across the UK suggests the potential for more effective management of these children even in developed countries2. Indeed, some researchers have suggested routine vitamin K supplementation also in patients with CF and severe liver disease, major small-bowel resection, pancreatic insufficiency or lung disease that require frequent use of antibiotics3. Vitamin D supplementation could help prevent the development of MS and augment its treatment4.

No doubt, vitamins and micronutrients are important components of the management of a variety of other health conditions, but research findings also exist on the likely health benefits of preventing micronutrient deficiencies in healthy children5. Actually, vitamin supplementation has helped lower child mortality from vitamin A deficiency and helped prevent developmental damage during pregnancy and mental retardation due to iodine deficiency5 in many developing countries, in many of which national programs exist for example for twice a year vitamin A supplementation to children, who also receive iodized salt5. Such large-scale anti-vitamin deficiency programs would no doubt help prevent a number of different diseases, improve health, and reduce mortality among youngsters, and need to be even more widespread particularly in developing countries, but also among targeted populations in developed countries.

The need to recognize the link between maternal and child health in this context is also important, hence the need for such programs to include daily iron supplementation during pregnancy, and that of folic acid prior to conception in women of child-bearing age, and during pregnancy to reduce the incidence of birth defects that could affect the brain and the spinal cord in their children for examples. Some authors have also suggested routine vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy as a practical and cost-effective means to prevent multiple sclerosis (MS) 6 as cross-sectional and longitudinal epidemiological studies have indicated a protective effect of exposure to sunlight during early life, and of vitamin D supplementation in reducing the life-time prevalence of MS in women.

In a study published in the October 2007 issue of the journal, Headache, Di Rosa and co observed the link between MTHFR gene variants C677T and A1298C and an increased risk of migraine and the role that folates' metabolism could play a role in biological mechanisms involved in migraine7. The researchers supplemented 16 children with migraine, hyperhomocysteinemia, and MTHFR polymorphisms with folic acid and observed a resolution/reduction of migraine attacks, suggesting the efficacy of folic acid in these variants of migraine, although they acknowledged the need for more studies on this subject.

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