Are Your Kids Getting Enough Vitamin D This Winter?
Vitamin D and the great outdoors are like two peas in a pod, but not in the winter when kids need to be healthy the most. Known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is important for building strong bones in children and young adults. In the summer, it’s a no-brainer as vitamin D is made by human skin when exposed to the sun. In the winter though, the sun can’t do anything for your kids’ vitamin D levels if you live in certain parts of the planet. The winter sun is simply too low in the sky to generate sufficient vitamin D through the skin. That’s an issue and every winter, I wonder if my kids are getting enough Vitamin D. I was diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency last year and for all I know, my girls are probably not getting enough right now.
Let’s see how this works.
Look at this world map, from Peak Modern Living and find out where your family lives on the map.
- Above the orange line = the sun might be too weak to give you enough vitamin D during the winter months.
- Above the red line = forget the sun. You need alternate sources of vitamin D.
If you have teenagers, the issue of Vitamin D levels is even more important than for younger kids. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, approximately 40% to 60% of adult bone mass is accrued during the adolescent years and by age 18, 90% of the adult bone mass has been created. That’s because teens drink less milk and spend less time outdoors than younger kids.
I’m no nutritionist or doctor, but most government health websites agree on a few things and I’ve been through vitamin D deficiency before. Here’s where you find vitamin D in the winter.
- Vitamin D-fortified milk, yogurt, orange juice and breakfast cereals
- Cod liver oil
- Oily fish (salmon, trout, tuna, mackerel, herring, sardine)
- Mushrooms (portobello, maitake, chanterelles, shiitake)
- Beef liver
Apart from making the above-mentioned foods part of your family diet, the obvious source of vitamin D is supplements. You can find kids’ multivitamins at drugstores or in the health aisle of your local market. Whether they are gummies or cherry-flavored tablets, these supplements should list vitamin D levels that meet government-recommended daily minimum intakes.
Last resort but not a permanent fix, you can decide to take your family winter vacation on a Thai island rather than at a ski resort. This won’t last longer than the school winter break, but that’s two weeks of vitamin D sorted. Hey, I’m being creative here:)
Vitamin D deficiency is no joke. Make sure your kids get enough vitamin D in the winter and do as the doctor always recommends – enjoy the great outdoors!