Vitamins

All adults, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, need 10 micrograms (10mcg) of vitamin D a day, and should consider taking a supplement containing this amount.

Vitamin D regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, which are needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.

Our bodies make vitamin D when our skin is exposed to summer sunlight (from late March/early April to the end of September). It’s not known exactly how much time is needed in the sun to make enough vitamin D to meet the body’s needs, but if you are out in the sun take care to cover up or protect your skin with sunscreen before you start to turn red or burn.

Vitamin D is also in some foods, including:

  • oily fish (such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines)
  • eggs
  • red meat

 

Vitamin D is added to all infant formula milk, as well as some breakfast cereals, fat spreads and non-dairy milk alternatives. The amounts added to these products can vary and might only be small.

As vitamin D is found only in a small number of foods, whether naturally or added, it might be difficult to get enough from foods alone. So everyone over the age of five years, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10mcg of vitamin D.

Most people aged five years and over in the UK will probably get enough vitamin D from sunlight in the summer, so you might choose not to take a vitamin D supplement during these months.

 

Vitamins for children

Growing children, especially those who don’t eat a varied diet, sometimes don’t get enough vitamins A and C. It’s also difficult to get enough vitamin D through food alone.

That’s why the Department of Health recommends that all children aged 6 months to 5 years are given vitamin supplements containing vitamins A, C and D every day.

It’s also recommended that babies who are being breastfed are given a daily vitamin D supplement from birth, whether or not you’re taking a supplement containing vitamin D yourself.

Babies who are having more than 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula a day shouldn’t be given vitamin supplements. This is because formula is fortified with vitamin D and other nutrients.

 

Healthy Start

If you’re pregnant or have a child under 4, the UK Welfare Healthy Start scheme can help you buy basic foods like milk or fruit. It aims to improve the health of pregnant women, infants, children and their families on benefits or low incomes.

If you qualify, you’ll get vouchers worth £3.10 each to spend on:

  • milk
  • fresh fruit and vegetables
  • plain frozen fruit and vegetables
  • infant formula

 

You can also get free vitamin supplements.

For more information speak to your Health Visitor team, ask at your local Children’s Centre or call 0845 607 6823

NHS CHOICES Vitamins, supplements and nutrition in pregnancy

NHS CHOICES information vitamins for children