Written by Kenda Roberstson and Steve Moreau
American Kids Need
More Vitamin D?
Two recent studies found that millions of U.S. children have extremely low levels of vitamin D. Lack of this important nutrient weakens the immune system, putting kids at increased risk for infections like colds and flu, as well as osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer and other health problems as they get older.
Vitamin D also helps the body absorb calcium, which is necessary for the normal development and maintenance of healthy teeth and bones.
While some experts recommend using vitamin D supplements, others believe the natural approach works best. Vitamin-fortified foods, such as cereals and breads, and pill supplements can contain artificial ingredients, which aren’t always recognized or absorbed easily by the body. Over-supplementation is also an unhealthy possibility.
So if you really want to protect your kids from the swine flu and other infectious illnesses, feed them vitamin D-rich foods and make sure they spend enough time outdoors in the sunshine to let their young bodies make vitamin D (experts say about 20 minutes several times a week without sunscreen).
Good vitamin D food sources include some types of fish such as salmon, raw whole milk products (as pasteurization reduces vitamin D), farm fresh pastured eggs and grass-fed beef. If you must supplement, use high-quality cod liver oil.
You may even want to have your children’s vitamin D levels tested so you’ll have an idea of where they stand.