At The Old Station Nursery, we have taken significant steps to enhance the nutritional quality of our menus over recent months, by providing additional training for our skilled nursery cooks. In amongst all the nutritional advice that we discussed; a lot of debate sprung from learning that many children in the UK are deficient in Vitamin D.
In this blog, we will discuss how we are making sure that Vitamin D is implemented across all our nurseries menu’s and some of the benefits it has for younger children.
Sources of Vitamin D and its Benefits for Children
Vitamin D is primarily synthesized in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. It can also be obtained from certain foods, with fish oils being an excellent source.
Some of the benefits, especially for babies and young children include:
- Stronger Bones and Teeth: Vitamin D plays a vital role in the absorption and regulation of calcium and phosphorus, essential minerals for the development and maintenance of strong bones and teeth in babies and young children. Adequate levels of Vitamin D contribute to proper bone mineralization, reducing the risk of conditions like rickets and ensuring healthy dental development.
- Enhanced Immune Function: Vitamin D is known to play a crucial role in supporting the immune system. It helps regulate immune responses and promotes the production of antimicrobial peptides, which are natural substances that help fight off infections. Sufficient levels of Vitamin D can aid in reducing the risk of respiratory infections, common colds, and other illnesses in babies and young children.
- Overall Growth and Development: Vitamin D is involved in various biological processes that contribute to overall growth and development in infants and young children. It supports cell growth, differentiation, and tissue formation, ensuring proper development of organs and systems. Adequate Vitamin D levels are associated with improved cognitive function, motor skills, and overall physical and mental development in children.
It is important to note that these points are for informational purposes only and should not substitute professional medical advice. Parents and caregivers should consult with healthcare professionals for specific guidance on Vitamin D supplementation and the health needs of their babies and young children
The Challenge of Vitamin D Deficiency
Being a fat-soluble vitamin, Vitamin D can be stored in the body, eliminating the need for daily consumption. However, children under the age of 5 require additional Vitamin D to support their rapid growth.
In recent years, due to increased awareness of sun exposure risks, many children are excessively covered when outdoors, preventing the synthesis of the much-needed Vitamin D. Furthermore, seasonal variations and parental preferences may limit children’s outdoor play, further exacerbating the deficiency.
Addressing Vitamin D Deficiency at The Old Station Nursery
At The Old Station Nursery, we are committed to ensuring children’s well-being. We encourage outdoor activities in all weather conditions to maximize their exposure to sunlight. Moreover, we aim to include Vitamin D-rich foods in our menu cycle, such as tuna, salmon, eggs, milk puddings, and fortified margarine or butter.
By prioritising these practices, we aim to combat Vitamin D deficiency and promote optimal health for the children under our care.