As a parent of two children, living in Ireland, I’ve come to realise over the last couple of years that our family is at risk of lack of vitamin D. But apart from sunshine (which we sadly lack here!) what else can you do? Here’s some advice on how to get more vitamin D into your child:
We consulted Professor Michael Holick, world renowned global expert on Vitamin D who was in Ireland last week with Avonmore Super Milk. This time of year is particularly important to up your family’s intake of vitamin D.
“Ireland’s geographical location and lack of exposure to sunshine vitamin D leaves people living in Ireland very vulnerable to vitamin D deficiency”, says Professor Holick.
“As one of the key nutrients involved in bone health, it’s worth making an effort to think about whether you and your family are getting enough vitamin D in your diet.
Adequate Vitamin D, calcium, protein and regular weight bearing exercises are all key for the maintenance of bone health but in Ireland, people of all ages are falling short on their vitamin D needs*. We therefore need to top up our Vitamin D during the year by consuming foods that are a good source.
Foods like oily fish (salmon, trout, and mackerel), eggs and liver are good sources but the range of foods which naturally contain vitamin D is pretty limited. Many of these foods are a hard sell to children so products that are fortified with vitamin D like fortified milk such Avonmore Super Milk which are consumed everyday are a useful way to boost intakes”.
*Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance. Dietary surveys of adults, children, pre-school and teenagers.
7 Top Foods to Boost Your Family’s Vitamin D
Add salmon to a creamy pasta dish for a quick way to add a vitamin D-rich food to your meal.
Get your children to make Mackerel Fish Cakes with you. Cooking together is a fun family activity and will increase the likelihood of your children eating the fruits of their labour too.
Eggs aren’t just for breakfast! With omelettes, frittatas and quiches you can also enjoy eggs for dinner.
#4. Fortified Milk
A 250ml glass of Avonmore Super Milk provides 100% of the reference intake of 5 micrograms of Vitamin D per day. This amount of milk could be incorporated into your porridge or cereal or alternatively a breakfast smoothie made from fruit and milk whisked together with oats and a little honey would get you off to a great start.
#5. Fortified Cereals
If cereal is a staple of the breakfast table in your house then make sure to choose a cereal that’s fortified with vitamin D when shopping.
#6. Liver (Lamb)
The best way to introduce liver to your family is to add it to recipes like Meat Balls in small amounts at first and then gradually increase the amount as everyone’s palates adjust.
Mushrooms naturally contain vitamin D so make sure to include mushrooms in your stir-fries, pasta dishes and risottos. If your children aren’t keen on mushrooms, then whizz them up in the sauce so they don’t know they are taking them.
How to get 5 ug vitamin D?
There are only a few foods that naturally contain vitamin D, so here are some serving sizes and ideas for getting your vitamin D up:
- 150g cooked salmon or mackerel 12ug
- 100g canned sardines 3.5ug
- 1 egg 1.9ug
- 100g lambs liver 0.9ug
- 250ml glass of Avonmore Super Milk 5ug
- Bowl of porridge and 250mls Avonmore Supermilk 5ug
- 150g grilled sardines on toast 5ug
- Strawberry and mango smoothie made with Supermilk 5ug
- 65gs of salmon/mackerel in a bowl of pasta with tomato sauce 5ug
Or try these Easy Recipes to Boost the Family’s Vitamin D.
9 Interesting Facts about Vitamin D
- Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps our bodies use calcium to build and maintain strong bones and teeth.
- Vitamin D also helps to regulate cell division, normal muscle function and supports the function of the immune system.
- Vitamin D is known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because our bodies can make it from the sun. When sunlight hits our skin, the ultra-violet (UVB) sunrays are used to make vitamin D.
- People in Ireland of all ages have inadequate intakes of vitamin D.
- It is difficult to get enough vitamin D from the diet since few foods naturally contain vitamin D.
- The amount of vitamin D produced in the skin depends on the season, time of day and skin type.
- Vitamin D production is also inhibited when clothes cover the skin, sun block, make up and/or moisturisers with sun block in them – an SPF of 15 reduces vitamin D production by 98%.
- As we don’t always get enough sun during the summer, our vitamin D stores may not be enough to get through the winter. This is why it is so important for people to get vitamin D from other sources.
- From October to March, in countries at a latitude greater than 42° North, little or no vitamin D can be produced due to the quality and quantity of sunlight – Ireland’s latitude is 51-55° North.
Over to you now. Are you aware of your family’s vitamin D intake? Share your thoughts in the comments below.