Vitamin D is difficult to obtain from food, especially for children. This is especially true if you don’t eat whole, real and nutritious foods. It is not always possible to get vitamin D from the sunlight. Children are spending more time indoors these days, and most people are slathering their kids up in sunscreen which inhibits vitamin D production in them from the sun anyway. Vitamin D is essential for children growing up, and research shows that more than 70% of them aren’t getting enough.
So how do we get enough of this vital nutrient into our kids?
There is so much hype and awareness right now about vitamin D due to COVID-19, and more and more people are learning they are D deficient. Therefore, many people have resorted to taking a daily vitamin D supplement. So is supplementing with vitamin D the best way to go? Synthetic D2 has been linked to hyperactivity, coronary heart disease and other allergic reactions, while synthetic vitamin D3 is poorly absorbed.
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Supplementing with Vitamin D is something I’m cautious about. I certainly don’t recommend processed foods fortified with Vitamin D as a way to ensure your kids get this all important nutrient. There’s a problem with both options, namely that Vitamin D works synergistically with vitamins A and K. If you focus on just getting D, you are going to run some serious risks. These nutrients can’t be separated, we need to understand the bigger picture about how nutrients work together.
Both vitamins A and D are needed for calcium and phosphorous absorption and are essential for strong bones. Again we see another way certain vitamins work symbiotically. Vitamin D seems to protect against cancer and multiple sclerosis. Deficiency in vitamin D can cause rickets and myopia. Without the three fat soluble vitamins A, D and K minerals cannot be used by the body, no matter how plentiful they are in the diet. For further information on these nutrients check out this article, about a third of the way down the section entitled, ‘Fat Soluble -Activators‘.
If you’re concerned about vitamin D for your child or yourself, remember that whole foods are the best option. Your body stores these nutrients so any extra summer sun you get will be useful down the line, provided it is not blocked by sun block.
Just to note, I also heard Dr. Mercola in one of his videos on Vitamin D, say that you don’t want to wash your body with soap after you get sun or it will wash away the benefits of the sun on your skin. You can rinse off and use soap only where needed. So knowing this, I’d say many people are not getting as much vitamin D from the sun as they might think.
Pasteurized milk and Vitamin D
One more thing of note, before I get to the best ways to include vitamins D, A and K into your kids, is that many people assume they will get good amounts of vitamin D from milk. As I said earlier, fortified foods are not the way to go, and pasteurized milk is not getting you your vitamin D. Also, even raw milk is not high in vitamin D. Only raw milk from cows grazing on rapidly growing green grass in the spring will have good amounts of D in their milk. So don’t assume you are getting enough D if you drink milk.
Cod Liver Oil and Vitamin D
Dr. Weston Price studied intensely what nutrients were in native diets that were eating traditional foods free from processing. He found that each unique group he studied had levels of vitamins A and D that were 10 times higher than that of the modern American diet (and this was back in the early 1900’s). One of the recommendations by the Weston A. Price Organization, based on his research, is to take cod liver oil daily. Cod liver oil contains an appropriate balance of vitamins A and D, and is a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids as well.
If you can afford cod liver oil, this is a great way to ensure you and your family are getting good amounts of these nutrients. Of course all cod liver oils are not created equally, often many have synthetic vitamins and additives in them to keep from going rancid. That is why I choose fermented cod liver oil. Do some research and don’t just settle for the cheapest brand you can find, there is a reason why it is cheap!
However, incorporating good quality cod liver oil into your budget isn’t always doable. Not to mention, kids may balk at the taste. I have 4 kids, the cost of cod liver oil isn’t doable for me right now. So, I opt for other alternatives.
Alternatives to Cod Liver Oil
What are they, you ask? Butterfat is one, in the form of butter and cream, that contains plenty D and A. We eat gobs of butter, and homemade ice cream (with cream and egg yolks) once a week. Of course you want these foods to come from animals who have access to the outdoors and sunshine. Eggs from pastured hens allowed to eat bugs and grubs, not fed a vegetarian diet of corn and soy are another good source of vitamins A & D.
We eat a lot of locally raised pastured eggs in our home. Liver, organ meats, fish oils and seafood, particularly shrimp and crab. Another great source is lard from meadow or pasture raised hogs. I recently purchased some lard and have been enjoying using it to cook with. I cook our breakfast eggs, saute veggies, and even deep fry with it. Hogs synthesize vitamin D through their skin, which means their fat is rich in D.
Thankfully, between all of these foods, each of my children and their own particular preferences, I feel that we are getting a good variety of vitamin D rich foods. We did take cod liver oil this past winter and I plan to purchase some cod liver oil in the fall to get ready for the upcoming winter without as much sun. I figure it will be crucial then to up our levels so I will plan to budget some in then.
My name is Maria. I am a fitness instructor by morning/evening, & an avid reader & fitness coach when I can fit it in. I write about being a new mom, a fitness instructor, a wife, and a lover of life!