Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is required for many bodily functions. It is known as the “sunshine vitamin” because it is produced in the skin from 7-dehydrocholesterol when exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. A variety of factors, including the season, level of air pollution, skin pigmentation, latitude, use of sunscreen, type of clothes, and amount of skin exposed, determine the level of synthesis in the skin. Vitamin D is important for bone health because it regulates Calcium and Phosphate metabolism. Furthermore, it aids in the absorption of calcium, which is one of the primary building blocks for strong bones. Your body requires Vitamin D for muscle contraction and nervous system functioning.
As a result, including Vitamin D-rich foods may be one possible way to reduce Vitamin D insufficiency among kids. A diet containing Vitamin D-rich foods is a key to getting more of it into the body since children’s needs and habits have changed, and they don’t spend enough time in the sun anymore. Vitamin D-rich foods, instead of supplements, are a better way to ensure enough of it in our kids.
Here are 7 Vitamin D-rich foods to address Vitamin D deficiency among kids:
1. Seafood & Fatty Fish
Seafood and fatty fish are natural sources of Vitamin D, and they have it in abundance. They have Vitamin D3, which is easily absorbed in the intestine. Cholecalciferol levels in fatty fish such as sardines and anchovies range from 2 to 4 micrograms per 100g edible amount. Consuming these fatty fish in baked or steamed form two or three times per week can help meet vitamin D requirements.
2. Egg Yolk
Apart from being a strong source of protein, egg yolk also includes a significant
amount of Vitamin D3. To get more Vitamin D3, choose free-range eggs. Hens bred in pastures spend a lot of time in direct sunlight. As a result, their eggs pack a greater
amount of Vitamin D as compared to other varieties available on the market. Egg yolk additionally contains cholesterol, a derivative of which is needed as an initial substrate for Vitamin D synthesis under the skin. Incorporating one or two whole eggs into your child’s diet on a daily basis is an excellent approach to meet protein and Vitamin D requirements.
3. Amaranth seeds & Sesame seeds
According to the National Institute of Nutrition’s published food composition data, amaranth seeds (rajgira) and sesame seeds (til) are good vegetarian sources of Vitamin D, particularly Vitamin D2. They contain about 55 to 75 micrograms of Vitamin D2 per 100 grams of food. These seeds can be included in your child’s meals on a regular basis. Both of these food sources are high in calcium, making them an excellent choice for children who are lactose intolerant or allergic to milk.
Mushrooms are a good source of Vitamin D-rich foods for vegetarians. Mushrooms can make their Vitamin D when exposed to UV light, just like people can. Up to 109 micrograms of Vitamin D2 can be found in 100 grams of oyster mushrooms. Wild mushrooms have more Vitamin D than mushrooms grown conventionally.
5. Fortified Cow’s Milk
Most milk brands on the market today have added Vitamin D. There is approximately 0.5 microgram of Vitamin D in every 100ml of enriched cow’s milk. Other foods that have Vitamin D are butter, ghee, and yoghurt – made from whole milk or fortified with Vitamin D. Milk is a good source of both calcium and Vitamin D.
Among Vitamin D rich foods, soybeans can be a great vegetarian source. Soybeans can give you 66.2 micrograms of Vitamin D2 per 100 grams. You can also buy soy products like soy milk and tofu that have been fortified with Vitamin D. For vegans, soyabean is a good source of protein and calcium. Adding soybeans or fortified soy products twice or thrice a week is an effective way to boost the nutritional value of your child’s diet.
7. Fortified cereals & other products
Because very few foods naturally contain significant amounts of Vitamin D, Vitamin D fortification has become a popular way to supplement your everyday diet. Vitamin D fortification varies from product to product. Vitamin D-fortified almond milk, breakfast cereals, orange juice, milk-based beverages, and other products are widely available at the grocery store. You can look at the nutrition facts on the product labels to find out how much Vitamin D was added.
Because Vitamin D is a fat-soluble Vitamin, it must be absorbed through a fat source. Consuming the above foods with some fat source will improve Vitamin D bioavailability. Some of the above-listed foods such as fatty fish, egg yolk, and milk products naturally include fat and are thus excellent sources for Vitamin D absorption. Others require cooking or pairing with a fat source to maximize Vitamin D absorption. Apart from that, two servings of Bournvita with a glass of milk can also provide 50% RDA of Vitamin D.
Vitamin D insufficiency leads to abnormal calcium homeostasis, causing rickets in children or osteomalacia in adults, both of which weaken the bones. If children don’t get enough calcium and Vitamin D while they are growing up, they may develop osteoporosis and have more stress fractures as an adult.
The recommended dietary allowance of Vitamin D for children is 600 IU or 15 micrograms. The easiest way to get more Vitamin D is to go outdoors and get some direct sunlight. In India, getting 15 to 40 minutes of sunlight between 11 AM and 2 PM, 2-3 times a week, can help the body produce more Vitamin D. Despite plenty of sunlight, Vitamin D insufficiency affects up to 70% of the Indian population, owing to a variety of socioeconomic and cultural factors. To ensure optimal Vitamin D levels for your child’s healthy growth and development, make sure you include foods high in Vitamin D. Every kid is different, and their nutritional needs depend on their age, gender, and level of activity. Consult a qualified nutritionist to get a diet plan for your child that is healthy and well-balanced. Apart from that, it’s always a good idea to consult your doctor about tests to understand if your kid has any food sensitivities or issues digesting food. It will help them derive maximum benefits from the diet you have planned for them.
The views expressed are that of the expert alone.
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