Life

Ask the Expert: Where can children get vitamin D?

Sunshine is our main source of vitamin D – it stimulates our bodies to produce it

ASK THE EXPERT

Q: "I've heard a lot about the importance of vitamin D for children, but I'm not sure about supplements – are there any good food sources of vitamin D?"

A: Sports nutritionist Gareth Nicholas says: "For most of us, there's no substitute for a sunny day, and when it comes to getting our daily dose of vitamin D, it's no different. The vitamin is produced by our body in reaction to sunlight and we get most of our vitamin D from sunlight on our skin – that's why it's called the sunshine vitamin.

"Vitamin D plays an important role in the body's health – it contributes to healthy muscle function and a normal functioning immune system. It's also important for helping children to absorb calcium which is essential to build and maintain healthy bones and teeth. But for children living in the Ireland and other sunshine-deprived areas, there are other food and drink sources of vitamin D that we can use as a back-up when the skies are grey.

"Firstly, there's oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel. Salmon is a great source of vitamin D, but if your children are reluctant to try fish, fortified breakfast cereals can contain approximately 20 per cent of their dietary reference intake [DRI] for vitamin D, and drinks such as Horlicks are also fortified with the vitamin, with each cup containing 93 per cent of the DRI. Eggs are another great choice for children, as the yolks are rich in the sunshine vitamin.

"Try a combination of these alongside a healthy diet to top up vitamin D levels if you're reluctant to try supplements."

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