Made in the body from exposure to sunlight, vitamin D plays an important role in bone health along with calcium. Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium and phosphorus and helps deposit these minerals in bones and teeth making them stronger and healthier.
The fortification of cow’s milk with vitamin D has greatly reduced the risk of vitamin D deficiency in children. However, the rising consumption of juice and soft drinks in place of milk along with less play time outside is increasing the probability of deficiency among kids, which can lead to rickets or defective bone growth.
Children older than 1 year need 600 IU of vitamin D every day. Make sure your child is getting enough vitamin D by including fortified milk with meals. For example, one cup of fortified milk contains 100 IU. Fish, such as salmon, mackerel and tuna, as well as egg yolks, and fortified breakfast cereals also contain vitamin D.
Talk with your child’s healthcare provider to determine if your child is meeting their vitamin D needs or if they may need a supplement. For guidance regarding serving fish to young children, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website.