Vitamin D supplements for you and your baby

Vitamin D is a vitamin responsible for healthy teeth, bones, and muscles. Your body creates vitamin D when your skin is exposed to direct sunlight.

You are more likely to have a lower level of vitamin D if:

  • you have a darker skin tone
  • you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  •  you wear concealing clothing, preventing your skin from being exposed to direct sunlight
  •  you spend a lot of time indoors or use sun creams, reducing your exposure to sunlight

Your baby is more likely to have a lower level of vitamin D if you have:

  • a raised body mass index (BMI >30)
  • gestational diabetes

or your baby:

  • has a darker skin tone
  • is born in the winter months, so is not exposed to a lot of sunlight
  • spends a lot of time indoors
  • wears sun protective clothing or sun covers (and/or sunscreen if they are over six months old). Although these are necessary precautions, they reduce your baby’s exposure to sunlight.

In addition to sunlight, vitamin D is also found in a small number of foods, including:

  • oily fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel
  • red meat
  • egg yolks
  • soft margarines, breakfast cereals and other foods that have been fortified with vitamin D

It is difficult to get enough vitamin D from just your diet alone. You and your family are therefore advised to take a daily supplement of vitamin D, especially between October and March when sun exposure is limited.

  • If you are pregnant and breastfeeding, you are advised to take 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day.
  • Exclusively breastfed babies, and babies who receive less than 500ml of formula per day are advised to take 8.5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day, until they are a year old.
  • Formula fed babies who are receiving more than 500ml of formula a day do not require a vitamin D supplement as the formula is fortified with vitamin D.
  • Children over the age of one year and adults are advised to take 10 micrograms of vitamin D daily.

It is important to ensure your baby is given the correct vitamin supplement for their age. Speak to your GP, health visitor, or pharmacist for more information. You are entitled to free prescriptions for a year after your baby’s birth. You and your baby may also be entitled to ‘Healthy Start' food, milk and vitamin vouchers.

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