According to new survey parents in the United Kingdom are unaware of the proper steps to ensure that their child is vitamin D sufficient during the winter months.
The survey involved 1,108 parents of the 11 government regions of Great Britain who have children aged five or under (1). The results showed that only 4% of the parents were able to distinguish between the months that the skin can make vitamin D from sunlight, and the months that it cannot. Furthermore, 82% were unaware of Department of Health guidance that all infants and young children aged six months to five years should take a daily supplement of vitamin D. Fifty percent admitted to knowing “not much” or “nothing” about the role of vitamin D in their child’s health and over a third (35%) have never received any information about the importance of vitamin D in their child’s health.
The researchers commented that the average British toddler is only getting 27% of their reference nutrient intake of vitamin D and much more work needs to be done to increase awareness among parents and healthcare professionals. Government guidance states that all infants and young children aged six months to five years should take a daily supplement of vitamin D, and during winter this is particularly important. In addition, parents can make a few simple adjustments to their children’s diet such as including more naturally-rich and enhanced vitamin D foods. While safe sun exposure in the summer is a good source of vitamin D for children, the sunlight in the UK in winter (November to March) is absorbed by the atmosphere and is not strong enough for the skin to produce vitamin D.