By continuing to use the site you agree to our Privacy & Cookies policy

Most parents 'ignore' advice on infant vitamin D intake

The majority of parents are ignoring guidance from healthcare professionals and not giving their children essential vitamins, claims a survey for the health food industry.

Despite NHS guidance suggesting that children aged six months to five years should receive daily vitamin D supplements, 59% of parents are not taking up the advice, a poll found.

The survey, commissioned by the Health Food Manufacturers’ Association (HFMA), found that 64% felt their children were getting enough vitamin D from their diets alone.

The poll, which saw 10,000 UK adults questioned, including 5,800 parents, found that 76% of people didn’t know that youngsters are advised to take vitamin D supplements.

And more than a third said there was not enough information available about food supplements.

In February 2012, England’s chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies issued a letter with advice on supplements for at risk groups, including infants and young children under five years of age.

At present only low-income families qualify for free vitamins on the NHS but there are rising concerns about the number of children who develop rickets − the most common cause of the bone condition is a lack of vitamin D.

“The public needs access to straightforward, responsible information about how essential vitamins and minerals work”

Graham Keen

Health officials have estimated that 40% of children are not getting enough vitamin D.

The best source of vitamin D, which is essential for keeping teeth and bones healthy, is sun on the skin. It only occurs naturally in a few foods, such as oily fish and eggs, and is added to some items such as fat spreads and breakfast cereals.

Dr Adrian Martineau, clinical reader in respiratory infection and immunity at Queen Mary University of London, said: “One key reason why so many are deficient is because since the 1990s, in an attempt to reduce the risk of skin cancer, most of the developed world has become increasingly adverse to sun exposure.

Vitamin D

Adrian Martineau

“In addition, vitamin D is also a fat-soluble hormone and as such, gets stored in the body’s fat reserves − where it is unable to carry out its normal role. With rising levels of obesity, more of us have greater amounts of body fat and this is reducing the effective levels of vitamin D,” he said.

“This further highlights the importance of supplementation in this nutrient as a public health issue,” he added.

HFMA’s executive director Graham Keen added: “The public needs access to straightforward, responsible information about how essential vitamins and minerals work.

“Everyone should know that the best solution for most people to consume key nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, is to eat as healthy a diet as possible. However, it should be recognised that a daily food supplement provides important insurance for millions looking to safeguard their nutritional intake.”

Readers' comments (3)

  • Who hasn't been informing them, then? 76% of surveyed parents didn't know! The thing is, it is sun light, not necessary sun-bathing which produces Vit D in the presence of calcium and phosphorous, which may also be missing from the "chip" diet. Kids cant play out in most areas because of the risks involved and I dont just mean traffic, so they are in artificial light most of their lives! I think schools should insist of more sport in school time, outdoor sport to encourage team spirit, better muscle development and, SUN LIGHT. Obesity is on the increase because of poor diet, sedenary activities, such as Smart-phone games are invogue

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • They haven't been ignoring the advice - they didn't know about it! I only found out when a Pharmacist at work mentioned it to me.

    I belong to a parenting forum(netmums), and it's amazing how many of them don't believe there is any need to give Vit D because their Health Visitor has never mentioned it, neither have their Gps.

    There is also a growing problem with some parents plastering their kids in factor 50 as soon as they set foot outdoors.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • I was never advised about vitamin supplements when my child was a baby / toddler. I found out , through the nursing press, some years later. He seems to have turned out OK though .

    Unsuitable or offensive?

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment.

Related Jobs

Sign in to see the latest jobs relevant to you!

newsletterpromo