Risk of Vitamin D deficiency
You may have an increased risk of not having enough Vitamin D if;
All adults, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, need 10 micrograms of Vitamin D each day. During the darker winter months you should consider taking a supplement, especially if you do not get outside as much.
Taking a Vitamin Supplement
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding you should take a vitamin D supplement to;
All pregnant woman are at risk of not getting enough Vitamin D. Make sure you try and get outside as much as possible during sunny periods and take a vitamin supplement. If you need further information about vitamin D in pregnancy, or breastfeeding, you can ask your Midwife, Health Visitor or GP.
It is very unlikely that babies can get enough Vitamin D safely from sunlight alone. Vitamin D is important for their bone strength, growth and plays a part in boosting the immune system too.
It is recommended that all breastfed babies have a Vitamin D supplement from birth. This is advised because babies cannot get enough from sunlight and the ‘dose' in breastmilk is not high enough. Breastfeeding provides enough of all the other vitamins.
Formula Fed Babies
Your baby does not need a supplement if they are having more than 500mls of formula in 24 hrs. Formula has added Vitamin D. Most fully bottle fed babies will be having this much after the very early days (4 or more 4oz bottles in 24 hrs).
You may need to give a supplement if;
Sunshine is where most of your Vitamin D comes from. Even a healthy diet that provides all the other vitamins and goodness you need, is unlikely to provide enough Vitamin D. There are some foods that contain it, which you could add to you own and your families diet to boost their levels of Vitamin D.
Vitamin D can be found in;
Even though the amounts of Vitamin D we need are very small it is still not easy to get Vitamin D from diet alone.
In the UK we get most of our Vitamin D from sunlight from around late March/early April to the end of September. Try and get outside as much as possible if the weather is good as this can be really beneficial to you and your family.
You would need around 10 and 25 minutes (depending on skin type/colouring) in direct sunlight. However using sunscreen and / or being in the shade is a barrier to absorbing Vitamin D.
We know that sunscreen and shade are important ways to protects us from skin damage and cancers.
Some groups of people may be more at risk from Vitamin D deficiency. It is recommended that the groups below take a supplement;
Women and children who qualify for the Healthy Start scheme can get free supplements containing Vitamin D.
You can talk to your local pharmacist about what supplement is right for you and your family.
Too Much Vitamin D
You cannot get too much Vitamin D from sunlight but taking too many vitamin D supplements for a long time can cause too much calcium in the body. This is not good for the heart or kidneys and can also weaken bones.
Vitamin D Recommended Doses
The Department of Health have recommended doses for all age groups;
Newborn to 1 years
Aged 1 to 11 years
Aged 11 years and over
If your doctor has recommended you or your child take a different amount of vitamin D you should follow their advice.
Not Enough Vitamin D
Vitamin D is unusual because we get it from our diet and from the sun. We also need to top up Vitamin D using supplements to make sure we get enough.
Healthy Start Cards
Healthy Start is a national scheme to improve health. You could qualify if you're on low income or benefits and are at least 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under the age of four. You also qualify if you're under 18 years old and pregnant.
Your midwife, health visitor or other health professional can support you to sign up. You will be sent a pre-paid card for cow’s milk, fresh/frozen fruit and vegetables and first infant formula milk. These can be used in local shops or supermarkets. You will also receive vouchers to exchange in pharmacies for:
For families who are not eligible for the scheme, all Norfolk Lloyds Pharmacies sell Healthy Start vitamins at a cheaper price than branded vitamins.
Parents with babies under 1 year - what do you know about Vitamin D?
Due to some cases of babies being unwell due to low Vitamin D levels, the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) and the Healthy Child Programme have developed a survey to try and help prevent this.
The survey is to find out what parents know about Vitamin D and vitamin supplements. The survey responses will be collected and reviewed by the NNUH paediatricians and the results used to help prevent babies becoming unwell.
The survey is anonymous. It would be great to get as many responses as possible.
You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.
If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.
You can speak to other Norfolk parents and carers by clicking our online community forum below.
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