Today I want to talk to you about a very important nutrient when it comes to our kids health.
I’ll give you a clue, it’s also known as the sunshine vitamin. I’m sure you’ve guessed it, it’s Vitamin D for kids! Watch the video below or continue reading if you would prefer!
There are Vitamin D receptors on almost every tissue in our entire body, and that means Vitamin D has an important role to play in so many different physiological processes that go on within our body.
You may know Vitamin D as being important in bone development, which it is, it works really closely with calcium in this. So that’s one reason that it’s important for our kids health, the other really important function that Vitamin D has in children’s health, is immune function.
Vitamin D is known as an immune modulator. It has a role to play as a first line defence, or it strengthens our first line defence against micro organisms, so it protects us against virus, bacteria, microbes. The other side of it is, it protects us against autoimmunity and it has an important role to play in allergic conditions, such as asthma, eczema, allergies, intolerances, so it has that balancing effect on the immune system, which is so, so important these days.
So how do we get Vitamin D? We get the majority of our Vitamin D from the sun. What I encourage you to think about is smart sun exposure. In my opinion, we’ve gone a little bit too crazy when it comes to being sun smart. We have to have a balanced approach. I want to tell you a little story.
I’ve got a bit of a family history of skin cancer, not melanoma, but the BCC’s the basal cell carcinomas, they’re not very dangerous, they don’t look very nice, they’re little growths that happen on the skin. I recently had one cut off here, and the skin doctor that I went to, was a really interesting guy, and he was studying anti-ageing medicine, an integrated approach to anti-ageing.
When I told him I was a naturopath, he was interested in my take on gluten intolerance, and Vitamin D, he was asking me all these questions, and so, we got talking about Vitamin D, and I asked him, “As a doctor who’s cutting skin cancers out of people, and dealing with people that have skin cancer, and then on the other hand having this education about anti ageing medicine, and nutrition. What’s your take on Vitamin D and sunscreen?” His answer was “We know Vitamin D protects against dozens of different cancers, we know that sunscreen protects against one type of cancer.”
I’m not saying sunscreen isn’t important, because it is, especially when you’re living in a hot climate like Australia, but the point is, that we need to make sure that our kids are getting … Having good levels of Vitamin D is just as, if not more important than making sure our kids are protected from the sun.
When we’re lathering our kids with sunscreen all the time, and they’re wearing hats and long sleeves, which is definitely warranted in certain weather, then they’re not able to absorb as much Vitamin D from the sun. So there needs to be a balanced approach to sun safety. So here’s what I recommend for ensuring that your child has good vitamin D levels.
One, is encouraging them to play outside. During the cooler months it becomes harder, because it’s raining, and it’s cloudy, and it’s cold, but really encouraging kids, and even yourself for that matter, as a mom or a dad, to be outside in the midday sun for 10, 20 minutes, to get that sun exposure. During the warmer months, earlier in the morning and late afternoon are fine to get that same sun exposure. So encouraging outside play as much as possible, and obviously using sun safety where it’s warranted, hats and sunscreen definitely, in those, in the hotter climates.
Number two, we can get Vitamin D through food. The sun is by far the best source of Vitamin D, but we can get Vitamin D from oily fish, liver, so pates are really good, and also eggs, egg yolks particularly are a good source of Vitamin D. So encouraging kids to eat more of those foods is great for their Vitamin D.
Thirdly, Vitamin D is a fairly simple test that we can get. It’s tested in the blood, so you do need to have a blood test. Not every child needs a Vitamin D test, but I would encourage you to think about looking at your child’s Vitamin D levels if they have an immune issue, if they’re getting sick all the time, or if they have an allergic immune issue like eczema or asthma, or allergies. It might be a good idea to look at their Vitamin D levels.
If you have any questions or comments use the comments below 🙂