24 Oct 2013

Vitamin D – vital for winter!

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It’s that time of year again – leaves are falling, days are getting shorter, summer holidays now long forgotten….and our vitamin D levels are about to plummet.

If there’s one vitamin I recommend for all children, it’s vitamin D.

We know that British toddlers receive less than 30% of the recommended amount of daily vitamin D from food – the rest must come from exposure to sunshine in the summer. In the winter, sunshine levels in Britain just aren’t strong enough for our bodies to synthesise any vitamin D, so for children 6 months to school age (some would say beyond) a vitamin D supplement is a must.

Vitamin D is crucially important for strong bones, growth, muscle development and the immune system. Vitamin D has also been implicated in other serious medical conditions such as type 1 diabetes, hypertension, cancers, multiple sclerosis (MS) and the autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). Severe vitamin D deficiency in children results in bone softening or “rickets”.

Vitamin D drops can be found in your local supermarket or pharmacy, or some NHS clinics supply the drops too. I remind parents to keep the bottle on their kitchen top or in a place where they won’t forget to give their children their daily dose. Vitamin D should be given all year round – not just in winter. Let’s face it – the amount of sunshine in the British summer is sometimes variable and often outside play is difficult.

Hayley Kuter
Paediatric Dietitian
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