Unless you live south of Los Angeles (or on the other side of the world), chances are that you and your kids are just not getting enough Vitamin D from the sun this time of the year. Although it only takes 10 minutes of sunshine exposure per day to help your body to produce enough Vitamin D, deficiency of this in winter months is prevalent. Here are some of our suggestion on how to modify your family's diet to get the proper dose year-round.
Why is Vitamin D important?
Here are 4 excellent reasons:
- Unlike other essentials vitamins, Vitamin D is so important to our bodies that we produce it ourselves! Vitamin D is made by your body when you expose your skin to the sun. Midday sun is best. Ten minutes of sunscreen-free exposure is all that's needed.
- Vitamin D is crucial for Calcium absorption. If your body is deficient in Vitamin D, you can drink gallons of milk and your body will not absorb that Calcium at all! Calcium is of course one of the most important elements for growing children's bodies.
- Research shows that Vitamin D helps to regulate the immune system and that the right dosage probably helps to prevent those frequent winter colds.
- Vitamin D deficiency is increasing worldwide, as pollution and sunscreen usage prevents our bodies from absorbing sufficient amounts. People with darker skin tones also need longer stretches of sun exposure to absorb the needed dosage.
To learn more about Vitamin D, I found this link to be particularly informative: What is Vitamin D and how does it work
Richest Food Sources of Vitamin D
- Eggs (specifically egg yolks)
- Fatty fish (sardines, mackerel, salmon, herring, tuna)
- Milk ( especially Vitamin D fortified)
- Cheese (Ricotta in particular, which has about five times more vitamin D when compared to most other kinds of cheeses)
- Beef Liver
- Cod Liver Oil (yes, I force my kids to eat a capsule each single day - to their dismay)
- Orange juice (again, often fortified)
- Mushrooms (Shiitake mushrooms have the highest amount)
How to incorporate Vitamin D rich foods into your child's lunch
- Sardines or Tuna Rilettes sandwiches, better if made with Ricotta cheese. My kids love them!
- Eggs! Use egg molds to make hard-boiled eggs more fun. Make an egg salad or simply slice it.
- Yogurt - just plain or mixed with Vitamin D fortified cereal.
- Beef Liver pate served as little tea sandwiches. If kids don't know what it is they will be more likely to eat it...try serving with some pickle slices.
- Add raw sliced mushrooms to the lunchbox with some ranch dressing for dipping.
- Send plenty of rich cheeses in each lunch, such as gruyere or swiss.
- Send cod liver oil capsule for a treat - just kidding!!!