Today was just like a return to November weather-wise. Grey, wet and significantly colder than it has been of late, making it appropriate to think about how little Vitamin D our kids are getting here in the UK.
Vitamin D is crucial for the under 5s to ensure that they grow healthily and that their bones and teeth develop correctly. But with the weather the way it is here it can be very difficult for children to get enough vitamin D from the sun alone. Now, my kids spend a good amount of time outside every day. We walk to school every day, I walk to town with Master C about three times a week, Little Miss C plays outside at school and lots of time is also spent in the garden or at local playgrounds, yet the average toddler only gets about 27% of the vitamin D intake their need and that’s quite a scary statistic. I guess I’ve just always been a bit blase about Vitamin D, but with both kids being so fussy with food at the moment I realise that I need to think more about their overall healthiness.
When an invite arrived to attend Vitamin D-iner, a three day pop-up restaurant aiming to give children meals rich in vitamin D I jumped at the chance. The retro American style diner has been set up by the Vitamin D Mission to help raise awareness of the need for Vitamin D and also providing parents with information as to how to boost their levels through their diet.
There are some natural foods that are good sources of vitamin D – eggs and oily fish for example – but other foods like breakfast cereal, follow on milk and yoghurts are also fortified with vitamin D. Something I hadn’t realised before is that it’s also possible to buy Vitamin D supplements.
As for our Vitamin D-iner expeience – Little Miss C was super excited about going somewhere new for her tea. With Master C generally just throwing food at meal times we don’t eat out much, especially not compared to when she was younger and I think she actually enjoys the experience. It was also really good for her to hear the staff there talking about why it is important to eat a balaced diet and lots of healthy food – for some strange reason when I tell her this it seems to go in one ear and out the other!
On the menu for tea were an egg rich cheese and ham quiche, a wild salmon fishcake and pasta in a vegetable sauce. LMC went for the pasta and I ordered the fishcake for Master C. To be honest we struggled to get LMC to eat the vegetables that accompanied the pasta, but nothing new there. I thought the salmon fishcake was delicious and I also managed to get LMC to admit that it tasted “nice”. Sadly Master C just sat there smiling sweetly, watching everything going on around him and with his fingers in his ears whilst ignoring all the food I put on his tray. Again, nothing new!
Pudding was a strawberry dipped in chocolate with rice crispies (which are fortified in Vitamin D) stuck on the outside. Despite loving them in yoghurts LMC refuses point blank to eat strawberries although she was a bit in turmoil about what to do about the chocolate and rice crispies which she does love. Master C saw chocolate and suddenly snapped out of his people watching and grabbed it eagerly. The strawberry itself put him off a bit, but at least he made an effort to eat something he’d not seen before. Progress in a small way.
This diner visit wasn’t my first experience of trying to boost Vitamin D in the kids’ diets as I also took part in a cook along just over a year ago, but it has been a timely reminder of the need to consider what my children do need to ensure they grow and develop healthily. I just need to figure out how to get Master C to actually eat (anything!) and then I can focus on making what he does eat the best nutritionally I possibly can.
Disclaimer: We were invited for tea at the Vitamin D-iner and the children also went home with goodie bags. Little Miss C thinks that the box of breakfast cereal (fortified with Vitamin D) in the bag is the best thing ever. I may consider similar for a low-cost birthday present option later in the year…