Lack of awareness on kids' vitamin D
13th March 2018 – More than 4 out of 10 parents in the UK are unaware of official advice to give vitamin D supplements to children under 5, researchers say.
The small study found that most parents were not meeting the recommendations for vitamin D supplementation.
The researchers from Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust say more needs to be done to get the message across to parents of young children.
Recent advice on vitamin D
Acting on advice from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), UK health officials changed guidelines to advise that everyone over 1 year of age should consider taking 10 micrograms of vitamin D each day to protect musculoskeletal health.
The results of a small study, presented at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health's annual conference in Glasgow, suggest that 54% of parents were aware of the latest advice but that 46% were not.
Of those not meeting the recommendations for vitamin D supplementation (54%), around three out of four (73%) of these parents were unaware of the current recommendations. However, once told of the advice, all said they would consider vitamin D supplementation in the future.
Those who were aware of the recommendations, but not giving their children vitamin D supplements, reported reasons including:
- Their children not liking the vitamin D drops
- Thinking that supplements are not needed if you eat a varied diet
- A belief that breastfeeding and outdoor play is sufficient to top up vitamin D levels
Vitamin D is often referred to as 'the sunshine vitamin' because the body makes it when sunlight hits the skin. However, vitamin D can also be found in foods such as eggs, fish, fortified cereals, and supplements.
The study found that 75% of these parents would now consider giving vitamin D supplementation following completion of the survey.
Public health message
The study authors conclude that "this suggests that parents and carers of young children are receptive to public health recommendations and emphasises the need for effective communication of recommendations to the target audience".
The study should be treated with caution as it is based on only 28 questionnaire responses, and the results have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.