Vitamin D: The sunshine hormone

Did you know?

Vitamin D is actually a hormone which is produced by the body when sunlight hits the skin. Another lockdown means mostly staying indoors again, and with the colder darker months upon us, our doses of sunshine are looking limited (even a flight for a week in the sun results in quarantine!). Children need vitamin D for bone growth, development, and a healthy immune system. Vitamin D helps us absorb calcium, and severe deficiency in children can cause rickets, delayed motor development, muscle weakness, aches and pains, and fractures.

Where does it come from?

It is difficult to get enough vitamin D through food alone as very few foods contain good amounts. Foods that do contain vitamin D are oily fish, egg yolks and foods that have vitamin D added during manufacturing like some margarines, some brands of milk and certain breakfast cereals. The best source of vitamin D is summer sunlight on our skin.

How much?

As food sources and sunlight are limited, the Department of Health recommends that:

•“Babies from birth to 1 year of age who are being breastfed should be given a daily supplement containing 8.5 to 10 micrograms (µg) of vitamin D to make sure they get enough. This is whether or not you’re taking a supplement containing vitamin D yourself.

•Babies fed infant formula shouldn’t be given a vitamin D supplement if they’re having more than 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula a day, because infant formula is fortified with vitamin D and other nutrients.

•Children aged 1 to 4 years old should be given a daily supplement containing 10µg of vitamin D”

Which supplement should I choose?

Check the label: ensure vitamins are age appropriate, and contain the correct dosage.

Expensive doesn’t mean the best.

Your child may have a flavour preference.

Some people are entitled to healthy start vitamins which are free through the NHS. You can discuss this with your health visitor

For more information, or if you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch via the contact page.

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