VITAMIN D, CALCIUM AND KIDS: ARE THEY BUILDING STRONG BONES?

One of the most important minerals in our body is CALCIUM. Bones are 70% calcium and it is only calcium which gives bones their hardness for protection and support. Bones also serve as the calcium bank of the body. Sometimes people get confused between vitamin D and calcium. Vitamin D helps body to absorb calcium and works with it to build strong bones. It moves calcium from the intestine to the bloodstream and into the bones. If you are thinking that your child is getting enough amount of vitamin D only by drinking milk, then you may be partially correct. Recent study shows that most of the children are not getting essential vitamin and minerals, and especially vitamin D. Some children with low vitamin D complain of pain in the legs and body. Very low vitamin D can lead to soft bones, causing rickets, a bone softening disease and also increase the risk of bone fracture in children. From age 9 – 18 children need more calcium to meet the daily recommended intake. Interestingly, it is only till mid-20s that kids can improve their bones which will last them a lifetime. Sunshine is considered as the natural source of vitamin D in body. Every cell of our body has vitamin D receptors. So, if your child is in the sunlight three times a week for about 15-20 minutes he/she will get enough UV rays to produce vitamin D. Not just bones and teeth, vitamin D builds immunity in the body and fights off attacking viruses and bacterias.

THE BEST FOOD SOURCES OF VITAMIN-D AND CALCIUM:

Cow’s milk and its products: It is the most commonly consumed type of milk and naturally a good source of many nutrients like calcium, protein, phosphorus and Vitamin B2. In several countries, it is fortified with vitamin D because milk doesn’t naturally contain vitamin D, but is a great source of calcium. These two work together to keep bones strong. There are some options of dairy products made of cow’s milk like cheese, yogurt which too are a source of vitamin D (How is it used in the rest of the world?)

Cereals: In comparison to other natural resources, fortified cornflakes and oat meals or granola mixes may provide less vitamin D, but still they can be a good way to boost the vitamin D levels. These cereals can be consumed together with milk or yogurt to achieve both calcium and vitamin D for the body. The most important check to make here is the sugar levels in the cereal. Added sugar intake can adversely impact calcium and vitamin D levels. (how does sugar impact bones?)

Egg yolk: Eggs are one of the highest natural sources of vitamin D. Just one whole large egg provides 50% of vitamin D required for the day. It helps to maintain strong bones and teeth. Those who can, can opt for fish (salmon, sardines) also as a source of vitamin D.

Banana: The yummy bananas are a great source of magnesium, which plays an important role in activating vitamin D in the body. Journal of the American osteopathic Association, suggest that- it is essential to consume the recommended amount of magnesium to obtain the optimal benefits of vitamin D. So while banana doesn’t have vitamin D directly, it enables absotion. In addition, banana is also a great source of quick energy (simple carbs) and prebiotic fibre (for digestion) for kids. Win-win!

Moringa: Moringa is a superfood. It has 3 times more calcium than milk which makes it an excellent food to treat weak or damaged bones. Some studies also indicate that moringa can heal damaged bones. Dried moringa leaf powder has 17 times more vitamin D than fortified milk. In addition to this, its a fix for digestion troubles, immunity and iron. (Some easy ways to moringa)

Ragi: It is said that no other plant source provides calcium the way ragi can. It also has vitamin D and along with calcium, it can help in improving bone strength. It is a whole grain that is gluten free also and can be used in baking cakes and cookies.(Easy nutritious ragi recipe)

Mushroom: Mushroom is a rich ‘plant’ source of vitamin D. Researchers have found that we can increase levels of vitamin D even more by exposing mushrooms to sun for 10-15 minutes. Mushrooms can be consumed either directly or also in the form of dried mushroom powder, which can be used throughout the year, even when the season of mushroom has passed. For kids who are picky and don’t particularly enjoy eating mushroom, using the powder is an easy option. it can hide in any batter or dough to make pancakes, wraps, bread, paratha, pizza. (Easy pizza recipe to hide mushroom powder)

Recipe for Ragi Dough:

  • 1 cup ragi
  • 1 cup whole wheat or sorghum
  • ¾ cup shredded cheese or cottage cheese or paneer
  • Salt as per taste
  • ½ Beetroot puree (optional)
  • Water for kneading

Mix all together into a soft dough. Roll out flat breads/ parathas. Eat directly with yogurt or fill it up like a wrap with some spread and veggies.

(Recipe for easy and healthy spreads)

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