Young children are among the rising numbers of people being admitted to hospital for Vitamin D deficiency and rickets, with new figures showing that admissions have increased by a third in the past year.
Vitamin D is essential for controlling the amount of calcium and phosphate in your body, which keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. A deficiency can result in rickets, a condition which causes bone deformities, as well as osteomalacia, which can make your bones painful and tender.
To stay healthy, we should all be getting an average intake of 10 micrograms (400 IU) of vitamin D every day. Yet NHS Digital data, analysed by the Press Association, suggests we aren’t getting enough, leading to detrimental effects on our health.
It’s worth noting a lot of people being hospitalised with deficiencies are also malnourished, which suggests poverty is playing a part in the rising rates.
Foodbank use is at an all-time high in the UK. Between April and September 2018, leading foodbank provider The Trussell Trust handed out over 655,000 three-day emergency food supplies. A little over 355,000 were handed out between the same period in 2013.
For most people, our main source of vitamin D will be sunlight and we tend to get enough between April and September, even in a UK climate. However in the winter months it can be particularly hard to get adequate levels. As such, a mixture of foods naturally containing (or fortified with) vitamin D and daily supplements provide the best source.
However, a new study by the universities of Oxford and Southampton found few children’s multivitamins actually give the recommended daily vitamin D dose. Of 64 multivitamins analysed, only 25-36% provided the correct dose of 10 micrograms (400 IU).
Public Health England advises that children aged one to four years old have a daily 10 microgram vitamin D supplement. These are available free-of-charge for low-income families on the Healthy Start scheme, however researchers said they only contain 300 IU per day, which is actually short of the recommended amount. If you’d like to increase your vitamin D intake, here are seven foods you can add to your shopping list.
Salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel are rich in vitamin D. You can also try taking cod liver oil, which contains high amounts of vitamin D, although this isn’t advised if you’re pregnant.
Cereals Fortified With Vitamin D
Last year Kelloggs announced it was doubling vitamin D content in the following cereals: Coco Pops, Rice Krispies, Frosties, Corn Flakes, Crunch Nut Cornflakes, Special K Original, Bran Flakes, Sultana Bran, Rice Krispies, Fruit n Fibre. Porridge oats and Cheerios also tend to contain vitamin D.
Only some cow’s milk and plant-based milks are fortified with vitamin D so you will need to check the pack. Some margarines and yoghurts are also fortified.