News

Concerns over vitamin D deficiency in the UK

January 27, 2012

The Department of Health in the UK has asked the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition to review the issue of current dietary recommendations on vitamin D as young children and some adults are not getting enough of the vitamin.

In the UK, there has been an increase in childhood rickets over the past 15 years. There are many other children who have less severe problems: muscle weakness, delay in walking and bone pains. Research indicates that in many parts of the country the majority of children have a low level of vitamin D. The Feeding for Life Foundation report, published in 2011, suggested one in four toddlers in the UK is vitamin D deficient (1).

Government guidelines recommend vitamin D supplements for all people at risk of deficiency, including all pregnant and breastfeeding women, children under five years old, people aged over 65, and people at risk of not getting enough exposure to sunlight (2). However, recent research found that nearly three-quarters of parents and more than half of health professionals are unaware of the recommendations. Consequently, the Department of Health has asked the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition to review the current dietary recommendations on vitamin D. Experts emphasized the importance of raising awareness of the issue, and informing health professionals on the need to prescribe and recommend vitamin D supplements to at-risk groups.