Vitamin D is mainly produced in the body by exposure of the skin to sunlight.
However, because of Ireland’s northerly latitude, in the months between November and March, there is inadequate quality and quantity of sunlight to enable sufficient production of vitamin D by the body.
During these winter months, we rely on our diets to provide us with vitamin D. But in reality, this can be difficult to achieve.
Dietary sources of vitamin D are not consumed in sufficient quantities to counter the lack of sunlight exposure. Examples of dietary sources of vitamin D include oily fish (e.g. salmon, mackerel, sardines), egg yolks and fortified foods such as milk and breakfast cereals.
According to Frankie Lewis from Nature’s Gold in Greystones, “the typical requests we get from parents are for immune system boosting supplements for their children. I always ask them if they are giving their baby or child a vitamin D supplement. Growing pains in children are very often due to lack of vitamin D and Magnesium. Allow your child 15-20 minutes in the Irish sun, in the morning before it gets too hot and before you put sunscreen on, so that their bodies can store some vitamin D in the liver for the darker months. Many people decide to keep their little ones on vitamin D drops all year round”.
The current healthy eating guidelines for Ireland are being revised and this will include an updated recommendation for vitamin D intake. However, recently updated dietary guidelines in North America recommend an intake of 5µg of vitamin D per day for infants and young children up to 3 years of age. In Canada, which is at similar northerly latitude to Ireland, all babies taking less than 500ml of infant formula are supplemented with 10µg of vitamin D.
Health professionals and parents need to be made aware that vitamin D deficiency is prevalent in Ireland. If you have any questions related to your Family’s current Vitamin D intake, speak to your GP, or, alternatively, speak to a nutritionist who is also a qualified professional able to recommend any supplements you might need to take.
Source: Food and Safety Authority Ireland/ ‘Rude Health’ Magazine, September/October Issue.