I am not sure how many parents know that the vitamin D requirements for infants and children have changed in the UK….finally. The change followed a review of all the scientific evidence by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) in the UK.
In the past it was thought that sufficient vitamin D was synthesised through the skin exposure of sunlight, but now with public health recommendation to wear protective sunscreen it is recognised that it is no longer possible. In addition, most children receive very little vitamin D from their diet as the diet on average only contributes only about 10% of requirements and this is based on an optimal diet that contains foods rich in vitamin D or supplemented with this vitamin.
I am sure you are keen to know what these guidelines are. So here are they are:
- All babies under 1 year should receive 8.5 ug-10 ug per day of vitamin D – in particular children that are breastfed from birth should receive these vitamin drops
- If your baby is on an infant formula and consumes more than 500 ml per day, it is assumed that you are achieving this amount, as these formulas are highly enriched
- All children between 1-4 years should have a daily supplement of 10 ug vitamin D per day
The above recommendations are based on achieving musculoskeletal health and not for any other therapeutic intervention as there continues to be significant debate around levels for prevention of certain diseases. Its important to know that as with any supplementation, too much is also not good, so please do not double the amount suggested and think it will only do good. Vitamin D is not only a fat soluble vitamin, which you can lead to toxicity, but it has a potent effect on the immune system, which may not always be a good thing it taken in excessive amounts.
You will notice, that it is currently difficult to find supplements that contain exactly 10 ug, as most of them contain 7.8-8.5 ug of vitamin D. This is because many supplements are still based on the Department of Health recommendations and the NHS Healthy Start vitamin drops also contain this dose. We are expecting this to change.
So the message from this blog entry is, do get a vitamin D supplement if your child falls within the above category and if in doubt talk to your healthcare professional to assist you.