Ask an expert: How can I make sure my child is getting enough vitamin D in the winter?

I know I’m supposed to be giving my child vitamin D in the winter, but she hates taking tablets. How can I make sure they get the right amount?

Michele Sadler, scientific advisor for the Health Food Manufacturers’ Association, says:  “Unlike some other micronutrients, adequate vitamin D levels can’t be obtained just by eating a healthy diet. Dubbed the ‘sunshine vitamin’, this nutrient is generated when the skin comes into contact with direct sunlight, so it’s more likely than not, that in the winter months, your little one isn’t getting enough.

“Another key issue with this nutrient is that there are very few foods which contain high levels of vitamin D, and even fewer which are traditionally considered ‘tasty’ by most children! Fatty fish like tuna and mackerel, and offal such as beef liver, are all high in vitamin D, but you won’t find many children eating these with every meal.

“Official guidelines state that all children under five should take a vitamin D supplement all year round, as it’s crucial for healthy bone development. However, for children who don’t like swallowing supplements, there are multiple new formats available – vitamin D sprays, gummies and drops can all help with introducing supplementation to children at a young age.

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The sun has started peeking like the opening of the Teletubbies in London this week, so let’s discuss Vitamin D! WHY DO WE NEED IT? Bones! Yes, I’ve posted about Calcium’s importance for bone, but did you know Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption? Too little Vitamin D can lead to Rickets in children and misshapen bones in adults (osteomalacia). Vitamin D also helps the body regulate the immune and neuromuscular system. SOURCES: Our body is able to make this vitamin itself from exposure to sunlight. However, as we in the UK know, sunlight is like a long-lost aunt who visits for 10mins and then disappears. You can get enough Vitamin D from 15 minutes (for fair skin) to a couple hours (for darker tones) of sun exposure. Food sources include fatty fish (think tuna, mackerel, salmon), foods fortified with Vitamin D such as some dairy produce, orange juice, soy milk, beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks. However, the best source is the sun. According to the Chief Medical Officers UK 2012 the following are at risk of Vitamin D deficiency: -All pregnant and breastfeeding women, especially young women -Infants and young children under 5 years of age -Older people ages 65+ (likelier to be housebound) -People who have low/no exposure to sun e.g. those who cover skin or confined indoors -People who have darker skins less able to synthesise Vitamin D. Melanin acts as photoactivity buffer for Vit D synthesis It is recommended that: -All pregnant and breastfeeding women take daily 10ug supplement -All infants and young children 6m-5yrs take daily supplement containing Vit D in the form of vitamin drops – infants fed formula will not need drops until receiving less than 500ml/d. Breastfed infants may need Vit D from 1m if mother has not taken supplements throughout pregnancy -People aged 65yrs+ and those not exposed to sun should take 10ug/d Get your dose of D whilst the sun’s free! #rd2b #bda #dietitian #nutrition #weightloss #2019 #nutritionist #loseweight #insta #getthed #slimmingworld #vitamind #weightlossjourney #detox #vegan #healthy #healthyliving #veganism #fitness #veggies #vegetarianism #health #plantbased #dailyd #vitamins #vitamins

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“If they’re still unwilling to take any form of supplementation, certain retailers and food producers have begun to fortify foods, such as bread and cereals, with vitamin D, which should go some way to bridging the gap, but it’s important that this isn’t used as the sole source of vitamin D, particularly in the winter months.”

- Press Association

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