During the winter our vitamin D reserves are often used. The ideal source for the absorption of vitamin D is the sun. During the chilly and dark winter months, it is a good idea to occasionally take a brisk winter walk outside in the sun. In addition to the absorption of vitamin D from the sun, vitamin D is also found in our diet. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that can be found in the fats of our foods. It is present in oily fish, butter, cheeses and other dairy products. For babies and toddlers, vitamin D intake is very important for the healthy development of the child’s bones. Vitamin D and calcium go hand in hand.
The importance of vitamin D, the fat-soluble vitamin
Vitamin D in a human body comes partly from exposure of the skin to the sun, and partly from the absorption of vitamin D from food. In Belgium and the Netherlands we get little sunshine during the winter period, which can lead to a vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. This means that it can only be found in the fats in our diet. Anyone who follows a low-fat diet has a high chance of having a vitamin D deficiency. Including a minimum of fats is a must in our diet.
Vitamin D ensures the proper absorption of calcium
By absorbing vitamin D you ensure strong development of your bones. Calcium and vitamin D cannot be separated from each other. Vitamin D ensures that calcium is properly absorbed into the bones. Children who play outside in the sunlight will be much less vulnerable to broken bones than children who play indoors all the time. Vitamin D is therefore recommended for babies, toddlers, adults and the elderly. All age groups need vitamin D. Adequate intake of the vitamin will also significantly reduce the risk of cancer and diabetes.
Where can you find vitamin D?
The importance of vitamin D in our diet cannot be underestimated. Vitamin D in our diet is present in oily fish such as herring or salmon. Regularly putting fish on the menu is therefore not an unnecessary luxury. After all, fish also ensures the absorption of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Vitamin D can also be found in butter, creams, cheeses and other dairy products. It is recommended to eat at least two dairy products per day. When a food is marked as having 0% fats, this also means that no vitamin D will be present.
Fortification of food with vitamin D
Fats to spread on sandwiches are often enriched with extra vitamin D. Cream products or some breakfast cereals can also be supplemented with vitamin D. You can find this on the label of the food. It is advisable to use some of these products when the sun does not really shine for a while. This way you can give nature a helping hand.
What about too much vitamin D?
In practice, excessive vitamin D intake is almost impossible, unless one were to take extra vitamin D supplements for too long. If used extremely irresponsibly, calcium deposits can form in the body. Anyone who eats normally and regularly spends time in the sun will not have too much vitamin D in the body. If you are in the sun for too long, you are still not in danger. It will then be your skin that regulates the production of vitamin D.
What about a vitamin D deficiency?
A vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets disease in children, also called English disease. The English disease has as a symptom an abnormality of the child’s skeleton. If a vitamin D deficiency occurs in adults, osteoporosis (bone decalcification) or muscle weakness will eventually develop.
Vitamin D in babies and children
Vitamin D helps babies and children absorb calcium into our bones and teeth and also gives children a strong skeleton. All children are recommended to take a vitamin D supplement daily from birth to age 6. It is recommended to administer 400 IU daily. This is approximately six drops of vitamin D per day. Administering vitamin D is independent of whether you, as a mother, breastfeed or bottle feed. Skipping once won’t hurt, but make it a habit to administer vitamin D to your baby or child every day.