In the First 1,000 days getting enough vitamin D into your little ones diet is difficult but really important.
Toddlers have a particular need for vitamin D as it’s necessary for calcium absorption which helps to build healthy bones and teeth. After all they are going through a period of amazing growth and development.
Believe it or not, toddlers grow faster than at any other time in their life. On average, they gain an astonishing 40 per cent in height and weight over the period of their first 1,000 days.
The main source of vitamin D comes from sunlight and it’s for this reason vitamin D is sometimes referred to as the ‘sunshine’ vitamin.
People who live in sunny countries get great exposure to vitamin D throughout the year; however, in more northern countries like Ireland there is a limited supply of sunny days.
For that reason the entire population, including toddlers have to depend on dietary sources of vitamin D for which there is only a selected few.
The best dietary sources of vitamin D include oily fish e.g. salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines and fresh tuna are rich. Eggs and meat provide very small amounts.
Simple tips to improve your toddlers intake of Vitamin D
- On sunny days allow your toddler to get out and about for some fun in the sun. Appropriate amounts of time in the sun are a great way for toddlers to get vitamin D.
- It’s important to remember that children burn easy, just fifteen minutes of sun on the hands, face and arms two to three times a week (without high factor sunscreen), from April through to September, is believed to be enough to keep vitamin D levels up while keeping the risk of sun damage low.
- Try to get into the habit of a weekly serving of fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel or sardines as this can really help to boast your toddler’s intake of vitamin D.
- Consider offering your toddler a breakfast cereal or milk with added vitamin D. Eggs are a very simple food to prepare and are generally a big hit with toddlers. Not only are they a good vitamin D source but they are rich in protein, iron and B vitamins.
- For tasty and exciting ways to boast your toddler’s intake of vitamin D refer to the recipe section for examples of nutritious vitamin D rich meals.
Try to encourage increased consumption of oily fish and eggs to boost vitamin D intake.
Even with a varied diet, it can be difficult for toddlers to achieve the required amount of key nutrients necessary for healthy growth. As part of a balanced diet, 2 beakers (2x150ml) of Growing Up Milk can provide about half of the requirement for vitamin D in toddlers. Growing up milk is a nutritionally tailored milk drink for toddlers made originally from cows’ milk and enriched with key nutrients essential for toddler growth and development.