Medical experts are warning that a generation growing up playing computer games inside are missing out on getting their Vitamin D requirement.
These experts point out that the practice of giving children a spoonful of cod liver oil, like mammy or even granny used to before they left for school, would prevent this, as cod liver oil is one of the few food sources of Vitamin D.
Other sources include oily fish, eg salmon and mackerel, offal eg liver, egg yolks, and fortified foods such as milk and breakfast cereals.
Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin. Exposing your skin to sunlight allows the body to manufacture its own supply of Vitamin D, but if children are spending most of their free time inside this won’t happen.
A severe lack of Vitamin D causes rickets. This is where bones become soft and do not form properly, leading to bow legs, fractures, and poor growth. Rickets was common in the 19th century, when children were forced to work inside in large factories and industrial areas with lots of fog. This meant they never got to see the light of day and were not exposed to any sun to make Vitamin D under their skin.
But rickets is reported to be on the rise. In recent years more and more cases of infants and young children with early signs of rickets have been reported in Dublin hospitals.
So make sure your kids’ bones have the best chance - limit the time watching TV or playing computer games, get them outside, play football or camogie with them, and this will Vitamin D-insure the whole house. An alternative would be the cod liver oil or other food sources of Vitamin D - but maybe a run-around outside would be easier!
By Cara Cunningham, community dietitian, HSE Dublin-Mid Leinster.
For more information on diet and nutrition, please contact Maria at the Community Nutrition and Dietetic Service, HSE Dublin-Mid Leinster, on (044 ) 9353220 or email [email protected].