Baby being fed

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 could get Healthy Start vouchers to help buy some basic foods. Find out if you are entitled to Healthy Start vouchers.

Women and children getting Healthy Start food vouchers also get vitamin coupons to swap for free Healthy Start vitamins. Healthy Start vitamins are specifically designed for pregnant and breastfeeding women and growing children.

If you get Healthy Start vouchers you will also be sent a green coupon, every eight weeks, which you can swap for free Healthy Start vitamins.

To pick up your vitamins just take your green vitamin coupon along to your local distribution point where you can exchange it.

Ask your health visitor if you need any further advice or visit the Healthy Start website.

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