Vitamin D for Toddlers
Young children and toddlers (aged 1-3 years) have high requirements for growth and development as they are active and growing rapidly. If they have a limited appetite relative to their requirements, they may be at risk of nutrient deficiencies1.
The latest infant dietary survey shows that in the UK 91% of young children aged 12-35 months do not meet the estimated average requirement for dietary vitamin D for children, particularly in winter2.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin naturally present in a few foods; it is obtained from a combination of sun exposure and from the diet. Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, ultimately contributing to healthy bone growth and development in childhood1.
Vitamin D is found naturally in a small number of foods, including:
- Oily fish
- Red meat
- Egg yolks
- Fortified foods like breakfast cereals and fat spreads3.
However, it’s difficult to get the recommended amount of vitamin D from food alone; the action of sunlight on skin is the main source of vitamin D3.
The Latest Vitamin D Advice
Healthcare professionals play a crucial role in advising parents on supplementation based on a child’s dietary needs and ultimately preventing vitamin D deficiency.
Based on the latest recommendations, healthcare professionals should recommend a daily vitamin D supplement containing3:
- 10µg for all pregnant and breastfeeding women
- 8.5-10µg for infants under one year
- 10µg for children aged one to four years
- In Ireland the recommendation is that all breastfed babies should be given a daily supplement containing 5 micrograms (µg) of vitamin D
- During the extended winter months, all children aged 1 to 5 years need to be given a low-dose (5 µg) vitamin D only supplement to make up for lack of skin synthesis from sunlight (FSAI 2020)4
However, babies who have more than 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula a day don't need a vitamin D supplement as formula is already fortified.
A growing up milk such as SMA® PRO Growing Up Milk can help to increase the intake of vitamin D5.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding during the first 6 months of life and continued breastfeeding for as long as possible. SMA® PRO Growing Up Milk is suitable for young children from 1–3 years, as part of a healthy balanced diet and it is not a breast milk substitute.