Vaishnavi gazed out of the window longingly. It was months since she stepped out of home and played in the park with her friends. Vaishnavi was six years old and her parents have asked her to remain indoors. From her parents and seeing TV she understood that there was a very contagious disease that was drastically changing everyone’s lifestyles and livelihoods of many. She herself was scared to step out of her home. But she missed the sun badly. She remembered those days when she would bask in the evening sun while playing with her friends in the park. Warmed by its rays, she used to sleep peacefully in the night and get up in the morning feeling fresh. But these days, she woke up with pains in her joints. She was aching all over and she could feel the lethargy seeping over her. She decided to tell her mom about it that day. When she did her mom immediately understood that lack of sunlight was making Vaishnavi’s bones weak.
Vitamin D deficiency can cause soft bone disease called rickets in children. When people are forced to remain indoors, lack of sunlight, which is the key source of Vitamin D, causes bones to become weak. To ensure that children get the necessary Vitamin D, parents need to consciously include Vitamin D rich foods in their diets. While children less than one year require 400IU or 10mcg of Vitamin D, those between one to thirteen years need 600IU or 15mcg.
Unfortunately Vitamin D is present in very few foods. While the fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel, cod liver oil and egg yolks contain Vitamin D, children who are vegetarians have limited choice. Milk and cheese to a very small extent contain Vitamin D.
Mushrooms are perhaps the only natural source of Vitamin D among plant sources of Vitamin D. Please ensure that you expose the mushrooms for about 15 minutes to sunlight if possible to boost its Vitamin D content.
Nowadays milk, cereals, and orange juice fortified with Vitamin D are also available off the shelf. Look for Vitamin D fortified labels while you purchase cereals and milk and opt for enriched items as against regular ones without Vitamin D. Consciously include these in your children’s diet, since Vitamin D helps absorption of calcium and phosphorous in the gut and makes bones and teeth stronger.
Check packed soya based items such as tofu and soy milk for Vitamin D fortification and include them in your diet. Oats mils and almond also contain minor quantities of Vitamin D.
Traditional Vitamin D Sources
Most of have nostalgic memories about our mothers’ dal rice and ghee. Ghee has been prevalent in Indian cuisines as well as in our religious rituals since olden days. Most of have nostalgic memories about our mothers’ dal rice and ghee. Include a spoon of ghee in your child’s diet frequently and also ensure that you don’t overdo the portion of ghee and your children have adequate physical activity.
Curd rice, famous in South India, is also one of our summer time favorites. Curd while being good for our digestive system is also a good source of calcium and Vitamin D. A cup of curd everyday can go a long way in taking care of your bone health.
Next time you go grocery shopping, start looking for fortified labels and do pick up some dairy stuff as well.