how much vitamin D does a child need

Guide to Vitamin D for children and babies

Just like adults, babies and children also need their quota of Vitamin D every day to help them to stay healthy.

Also known as the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D is essential for making sure our bones, teeth and muscles are healthy as they develop and remain healthy as we get older.

We tend to get most of our Vitamin D from sunlight exposure, which starts in the UK around March and ends as the summer draws to a close and autumn arrives, usually around September time.

Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the world

Given the fact it is one of the vitamins we can all get access to, simply by being out in the sun, you would like to think Vitamin D is something we have all got good levels of.

But Vitamin D deficiency happens to be one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the world.1 According to the British Nutrition Foundation, 1 in 5 people in the UK have low Vitamin D levels, which are associated with a higher risk of poor musculoskeletal health, such as Rickets, Osteomalacia, falls and poor muscle strength.2 And the thing is, few people are aware of the fact they are deficient in it, so fail to recognise some of the common symptoms.3

What is Vitamin D good for?

Overall, Vitamin D is good for maintaining good bone, teeth and muscle health and avoiding health issues, such as these, (which are often associated with low Vitamin D levels):4
  • Regularly getting infections, colds or the flu
  • Feeling tired
  • Bone, lower back or muscle pain
  • Depression
  • Slow-healing wounds
  • Hair loss

How much Vitamin D do adults need?

The Department of Health has Vitamin D guidelines in place for those over the age of 64 and pregnant and lactating women.

Generally speaking, adults who are at risk of low sun exposure should get 10 µg of Vitamin D a day, mostly through supplements.

Meanwhile, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has suggested that women, who are pregnant or breastfeeding may choose to take up to 10 µg of vitamin D a day during these periods.5

Vitamin D for kids

Low Vitamin D levels is something we can all suffer with. However, it is most common for young women, children, the elderly and people with dark skin, such as those of African, African-Caribbean or south Asian origin.6 It is recommended that those most at risk of having low Vitamin D levels – i.e. the people within the groups mentioned immediately above – should consider taking a Vitamin D supplement all-year round. This also applies to children from the age of one to four.7 Children aged one to four old should be given a daily supplement containing 10µg of vitamin D.8

Vitamin D for babies

When it comes to Vitamin D for babies, Public Health England recommends that babies under one-year-old should be given a daily 8.5-10mcg vitamin D supplement.

However, babies who have more than 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula a day do not need a vitamin D supplement, as formula is already fortified. It is also advised that babies are exclusively breastfed until they are around the age of six months.9

Why do babies need Vitamin D supplements?

90% of the Vitamin D in our bodies is produced in response to exposure to sunlight. Most babies are kept inside, or covered up, and sheltered from direct sunlight.

It is unlikely that your new baby gets enough sunshine on his or her skin to stimulate Vitamin D production. The other 10% comes from a varied diet including oily fish, and very small babies won’t be getting their hands on that!

Worried about giving your baby supplements?

Vitamin D supplements for babies and children have been formulated with little bodies in mind and are perfectly healthy. To put your mind at rest, read the label carefully so you are confident that you understand the dosage. Stick to the recommended dose, and keep a careful note of when you give your baby the supplement. Do not give your baby two supplements which contain Vitamin D (cod liver oil and vitamin drops, for example).

Summary

  • Vitamin D is essential for the normal, healthy development of teeth, bones and muscles
  • 1 in 5 people in the UK have low levels of vitamin D
  • It is recommended that anyone over the age of one takes 10 µg of vitamin D a day
  • Babies fed more than 500ml of formula per day do not need a supplement as formula is fortified with vitamin D
Shop Vitamin D for Children & Babies

Is your child deficient in Vitamin D?

Most children in developed, Northern hemisphere countries like the UK are lacking Vitamin D.

As a parent, you could do everything in your power to feed them a healthy diet and keep them active. But some children’s lifestyle keeps them out of the sunshine during our sunniest hours.

What are the signs of vitamin D deficiency?

Babies with a vitamin D deficiency are prone to seizures and older children will have softer bones, weaker muscles and are likely to be small for their age. It is vital that vitamin D deficiency is treated as soon as possible so you need to make a doctor’s appointment if you think your child might be vitamin D deficient.

How is vitamin D deficiency treated?

Once you have spoken to your doctor about your concerns, they will run a blood test to confirm whether your child has the condition.

Children of different ages require different amounts of vitamin D per day and your doctor will be able to provide you with tailored advice and arrange follow-up appointments to check how things are going in the coming weeks and months.

Summary

  • Vitamin D deficiency in children can result in softer bones, seizures, weak muscles and delayed growth
  • Your Doctor can run a blood test to see if your child’s levels are low

How to give your child more Vitamin D

Fortified foods such as some breakfast cereals and orange juice contain extra Vitamin D.

It would not hurt to give these to your child in place of non-fortified versions. But the best way to boost your child’s Vitamin D levels is to encourage them outside in the sunshine during bright sunlight.

If you are worried about the risks, remember that we only need 10 minutes of sunshine on exposed skin (arms, legs, faces and hands) to produce Vitamin D.

But what if your child spends a lot of time inside? Perhaps school and after-school clubs prevent them from getting outside. Maybe they are not keen on outdoor play, or they do an indoor sport?

Government health guidelines recommend giving children a daily Vitamin D supplement (10 mcg) every day.

The best Vitamin D supplements for babies and children

There are Vitamin D drops for babies and children available, which make it easier to give them their daily Vitamin D boost.

For instance, our Kids’ Vitamin D3 drops, come in a 30ml bottle and are unflavoured, so can easily be mixed with water, milk or juice. And for babies, there are Vitamin D supplements, such as Colief’s Vitamin D3 drops that can be mixed with food or drink or fed directly.

Recommended daily Vitamin D levels – at a glance

We all need different levels of Vitamin D, which vary depending on how old we are.

In summary

  • Babies from birth up to the age of one – should have a daily supplement of 8.5 to 10 micrograms (µg)10
  • Babies that being fed infant formula – should not be given a vitamin D supplement if they are having more than 500ml of infant formula a day. Infant formula is fortified with Vitamin D and other nutrients11
  • Children aged one to four –  should be given a daily supplement that contains 10µg of Vitamin D12
  • Adults should have – should have 10 micrograms (mcg) every day (the same level as one to four-year-olds)13
Shop Vitamin D for Children & Babies

Last updated: 11 January 2021

Author: Donia Hilal

Vitamin D