Top 5 tips to give your child enough vitamin D

Adolescents and infants are two groups at risk of having vitamin D deficiencies, which can ultimately impact their health and development.1

Here’s what you need to know about vitamin D and some tips for ensuring children are getting enough.

Why your children need vitamin D

Vitamin D is a key nutrient necessary to supporting and regulating how the body uses calcium, a mineral needed for healthy bone growth. In addition, vitamin D is associated with supporting muscle strength, assisting the immune system and healthy blood pressure in healthy individuals.2

Another important function of vitamin D is that in its most active form it plays a key role in allowing cells to conduct various genetic functions. Essentially, it enables cells to perform specific jobs, such as develop bone, build muscle and support dental health.

Given vitamin D’s role and function in the body, it is not surprising that it’s a crucial nutrient for people who are still in the developmental stages of their lives. Listed below are five ways you can help ensure your children have enough vitamin D.

1. Promote moderate sun exposure

Compared to how people typically receive nutrients, vitamin D is somewhat exceptional. Ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation from sunlight induces a biochemical reaction that enables the body to produce the nutrient in the skin.2

So, encourage kids to play outside. Plan a trip to the beach every once and a while. Sign them up for outdoors sports if they’re partial to any. Remember: There is such a thing as too much sun. When UV rays are projected to be three or above, people with fair and olive skin should take measures to protect themselves. You can check the SunSmart UV Alert to learn when coverage is appropriate.3

2. Give them a vitamin D supplement

If your children are not getting enough vitamin D from the sun, providing them with a daily vitamin D supplement is a suitable alternative. A vitamin D and calcium supplement can help in the development and maintenance of strong healthy bones, teeth and muscles.

Vitamin D can also support a healthy immune system.2 If your kids aren’t fans of vitamin D and calcium tablets, they can always take flavoured liquid supplements. It doesn’t hurt to tell them all the good the nutrient will do for them, either.

Cook a meal with fatty fish

The salmon you walk past at the supermarket is one of the most plentiful sources of vitamin D. If your kids like oily fish include it on the dinner menu on a regular basis. Mackerel and sardines are two other species that are high in vitamin D.2

4. Look for the right kind of eggs

There are eggs that are fortified with vitamin D. Adding it to such a food requires farmers to integrate it into their chickens’ diets.2

Those who know their way around the kitchen probably have a number of egg-based recipes up their sleeves, many of which their children could enjoy.

5. Give them a glass of milk

Parents with kids who can’t get enough milk will be happy to know they have access to vitamin-D fortified versions of the beverage.2 As this drink is such a popular choice among most children throughout the country, prompting them to have a glass of vitamin D-fortified milk may not be so difficult. For some mothers and fathers, it’s may be the best way to give their kids the nutrients they require.4

References
  1. Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. Vitamin D in children. June 2013. https://www.rnoh.nhs.uk/clinical-services/paediatric-adolescents/vitamin-d-children. 17/04/2015
  2. The Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University. What is Vitamin D and Why Do We Need It? Spring/Summer 2008. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/files/pdf/newsletters/ss08.pdf#page=11 17/04/2015
  3. Better Health Channel. Vitamin D. March 2013. http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Vitamin_D?open 20/04/2015
  4. Dairy Health and Nutrition Consortium. Children at risk of nutrient deficiency without adequate dairy. February 2014.
  5. http://www.dhnc.com.au/dhnc-key-science-achievements/men-who-consume-dairy-have-reduced-risk-of-diabetes 17/04/2015