This is a question many parents ask me. Multivitamin and mineral supplements should not be needed as nutrient deficiencies are rare in the UK. Provided your child is eating a variety from the 5 food groups, they are unlikely to need a vitamin supplement. The exception for this is a Vitamin D supplement. Rickets, a condition where growing bones are misshapen, is caused by Vitamin D deficiency in childhood. It was prevalent in UK children in the early 1900’s, and is being seen increasingly in the UK again. The reasons are multi-factorial and include less time playing outside in the sunshine, the use of sun-block because of worries about skin cancer and declining oily fish consumption. Oily fish is the only significant dietary source of Vitamin D. More than 90% of our Vitamin D needs are met by the action of UV sun rays on the skin. Recent guidance on the need for a Vitamin D supplement from Public Health England (PHE) following a SACN review of the evidence on Vitamin D and Health says
“Children aged 1 to 4 years should have a daily 10 microgram vitamin D supplement. PHE recommends that babies are exclusively breastfed until around 6 months of age. As a precaution, all babies under 1 year should have a daily 8.5 to 10 microgram vitamin D supplement to ensure they get enough. Children who have more than 500ml of infant formula a day do not need any additional vitamin D as formula is already fortified.”
Sure Start vitamins containing Vitamin D are available for all children under 4. Pregnant and breast feeding mums should also remember to take a Vitamin D supplement containing a minimum of 10ug daily.