Private Business Intermediaries

Are Your Children Getting Enough Vitamin D?

21/10/2014 | By Freedom Health Insurance
The number of children in hospital diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency has tripled in the last four years, according to a recent survey carried out by the public health awareness campaign Vitamin D Mission (1). Figures show that in 2009/10 there were 1,398 cases of children admitted to hospital suffering from vitamin D deficiency compared with 4,638 children in 2013/14 (1).

A lack of vitamin D can cause rickets in children (a condition that makes bones soft and weak and can lead to deformities) and bone pain and tenderness in adults (linked to a complaint called osteomalacia) (2).

While a small number of foods contain vitamin D, such as oily fish (salmon, sardines and mackerel), eggs, fortified fat spreads and breakfast cereals and powdered milk, most of our vitamin D is gained from sunlight through our skin (2). In the winter months, especially between November and March, the sunlight lacks ultraviolet B radiation, meaning that the sun is no longer enough to help our body produce the vitamin D required (3).

This is why it is important to consume foods rich in vitamin D and, if you fall into one of the population groups at risk of not getting enough vitamin D (including pregnant women, babies between 6 months and 5 years old and people aged over 65), take vitamin D supplements as recommended by the Department of Health (2).

According to the Telegraph, this situation may be linked to indoor lifestyles, with children spending too much time indoors during the summer months (3).

Data published by the Vitamin D Mission suggests a lack of knowledge in both parents and health professionals and reveals that only 4% of parents of 0-5 year olds knew which months the skin can make vitamin D from the sun and the months it can’t (1). Furthermore, they found that 50% of parents knew very little or nothing about the role of vitamin D in their child’s health and development (1). Even more concerning is that almost one third of GPs and health visitors, interviewed as part of a separate study, were unware of government guidelines for daily vitamin D supplementation (1).

The Vitamin D Mission has developed an online calculation for parents of children under five to find out if their children are getting enough vitamin D at

1.        Vitamin D Mission, 2014. Experts urge parents to make every day a vitamin D day as UK winter arrives. 21 October. Available here.
2.        NHS, 2012. Vitamins and Minerals - Vitamin D. Available here.
3.        Donnelly, L. 2014. Tripling in children suffering vitamin D deficiency, The Telegraph [Online]. 21 October. Available here.