Vitamin D for under 4’s

I’m writing this post after a few people have asked me if they should be giving vitamin D to their children. The answer is Yes. In 2016 the guidance on vitamins D changed and now the recommendations are that everyone in the UK takes 10 mcg a day. Especially in the autumn and winter months.

Usually as a dietitian I would encourage people to get their nutrition from food first, but with Vitamin D it is hard to meet the bodies’ requirements through food and UVB rays alone.

The original Dietary reference values for vitamin D were set back in 1991 by COMA. It was thought then that people aged 4-64yrs would synthesise enough vitamin D in the summer months to cover their winter needs. A review by SACN in 2016, found this not to be the case. If you live in the UK it will come as no surprise to know there are not that may days in the year that we have enough sun at the right position for this is happen. During autumn and winter we definitely do not have the sunlight we need to make vitamin D. Those with darker skin tones may also not get from sun exposure in the summer so taking a supplement all year round is a good idea.

Bones, Bones, Bones.
Low vitamin D is linked to increasing the risk of rickets in children. In adults, vitamin D is shown to reduce fracture risk and falls in those aged over 50yrs living in the community. There is also a beneficial effect of vitamin D on muscle strength and function.

Vitamin D advice for children under 4yrs:

Children aged 1-4 years should take 10 mcg per day, all year round.
Babies should take 8.5-10 mcg per day as a precaution unless they are having more than 500ml of formula milk a day, as this is fortified.
Data for children under 4 yrs is limited so it is hard to know how much vitamin D should be recommended, SACN have been cautious and set a safe intake of 10 mcg.

You can buy Vitamin D supplements in liquid form from supermarkets, Boots, Superdrug and pharmacies. Good examples are Abidec and NHS Healthy Start vitamin drops.


Disclaimer: I was sent some Vitamin D supplements courtesy of SuperDrug, which has not affected my views in the post above.

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