Ask the Expert: How can I make sure my child is getting enough vitamin D in winter?

Vitamin D is generated when the skin comes into contact with direct sunlight

Q: I KNOW I'm supposed to be giving my child vitamin D in the winter but she hates taking tablets. How can I make sure they get the right amount?

A: Michele Sadler, scientific advisor for the Health Food Manufacturers' Association, says: "Unlike some other micronutrients, adequate vitamin D levels can't be obtained just by eating a healthy diet. Dubbed the 'sunshine vitamin', this nutrient is generated when the skin comes into contact with direct sunlight, so it's more likely than not, that in the winter months, your little one isn't getting enough.

"Another key issue with this nutrient is that there are very few foods which contain high levels of vitamin D, and even fewer which are traditionally considered 'tasty' by most children. Fatty fish like tuna and mackerel, and offal such as beef liver, are all high in vitamin D, but you won't find many children eating these with every meal.

"Official guidelines state that all children under five should take a vitamin D supplement all year round, as it's crucial for healthy bone development. However, for children who don't like swallowing supplements, there are multiple new formats available – vitamin D sprays, gummies and drops can all help with introducing supplementation to children at a young age.

"If they're still unwilling to take any form of supplementation, certain retailers and food producers have begun to fortify foods, such as bread and cereals, with vitamin D, which should go some way to bridging the gap, but it's important that this isn't used as the sole source of vitamin D, particularly in the winter months."

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