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The whole UK population is at risk of low vitamin D levels as we are indoors a lot and have very little sunlight, particularly in the winter. We get most of our vitamin D from the sun but in many countries, including the UK, the sunlight is not strong enough to make vitamin D between September and April.

Vitamin D helps our bodies to absorb calcium, which keeps bones and teeth healthy. Children and babies who don’t get enough vitamin D can get softened bones which can lead to rickets.

Examples of foods that are high in calcium are: milk, yogurt, cheese and other dairy products, green leafy vegetables, soya beans and tofu.

It is important that you get enough vitamin D while you are pregnant and breastfeeding to keep your bones healthy and to provide your baby with enough vitamin D to support them in the first few months.

Vitamin D supplements

The Department of Health recommends that:

  • breastfed babies from birth to one year of age should be given a daily supplement containing 8.5-10mcg of vitamin D
  • formula-fed babies shouldn’t be given a vitamin D supplement until they’re having less than 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula a day, as infant formula is fortified with vitamin D
  • children between one and four years old should be given a daily supplement containing 10mcg of vitamin D
  • all pregnant and breastfeeding women should take a supplement of 10mcg of vitamin D during pregnancy and continue to take this while breastfeeding
  • everyone should consider taking a daily supplement of vitamin D in the winter months

If a baby has breast milk and infant formula they may still need a supplement of vitamin D if they have less than 500mls of infant formula a day.

Vitamin D supplements are available to buy from Children’s Centres across Sheffield. Alternatively you can buy them from most pharmacies, supermarkets and health food stores. They come in capsule form for adults and drops for babies.

If you quality for Healthy Start then you are entitled to free drops.

Healthy Start vitamins

If you are pregnant or have a child under four years old you may be eligible for free healthy start vitamins, along with free milk, plain fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables, and infant formula milk. You can collect these vitamins from your local children’s pharmacy or from children’s centre.

To find out if you are entitled to any of the above, please visit the Healthy Start website. You can also find out more by speaking to your GP, local children’s centre or health visitor.

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