WHY KIDS NEED IT: Vitamin D is crucial to building strong bones and decreasing the risk of diabetes, asthma, and allergies. Although labeled a vitamin, it’s actually a hormone and isn’t found in many foods. In fact, the best source is exposure to sunlight but because today’s children don’t spend as much time outdoors (and wear sunscreen and sun-blocking clothing when they are outside), many are deficient in vitamin D (some clinically), according to pediatricians and other health experts.
SIGNS YOUR CHILD ISN’T GETTING ENOUGH: Muscle pain, weak bones or teeth
HOW MUCH KIDS NEED: 400 IUs per day for all young children— including infants WHERE TO FIND IT: Fatty fish, shiitake mushrooms, egg yolk, fortified milk, and other “vitamin D fortified” foods. Fortified foods usually contain a synthetic version of vitamin D, called D2, that’s not as readily absorbed as the natural version, known as D3, says Kandice Stellmon, a nutrition consultant with Whole Child Wellness in Belmont, Calif. If your child needs a vitamin D supplement, choose one with D3. It’s more expensive but much more effective than D2.
FUN VITAMIN D-RICH FOODS: 4 dried shiitake mushrooms (249 IU) Sauté a few of these flavorful mushrooms with olive oil before sprinkling them on a homemade pizza. 1 egg yolk (25 IU) Mix up some deviled eggs for a smoother, more kid-friendly texture.