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Children's multivitamins lack recommended vitamin D levels

Tuesday February 26th, 2019

Most of the multivitamin products aimed at children do not provide the recommended dose of vitamin D, researchers warn today.

Analysis of 91 different products by researchers at the University of Southampton, UK, has found that while some vitamin D supplements or those labelled specifically ‘for healthy bones’ typically had a higher vitamin D content, some products contained low levels of the vitamin.

When the team examined 67 multivitamins, made by 24 different manufacturers, and 24 vitamin D/healthy bones products aimed at children under the age of 12, they found the daily vitamin D dose in the multivitamins ranged from 0 to 800 IU.

The recommended level is 800 IU a day, they say.

One multivitamin was suitable for use from birth, which provided 200 IU/day of vitamin D, while only between 25 and 36% of the available products for children over six months supplied at least 400 IU/day.

Nearly two thirds of the vitamin D/healthy bones products supplied at least 400 IU of vitamin D a day, but one product labelled ‘for bones and relaxation’ contained only 50 IU/day of the vitamin.

Writing in the latest edition of the Archives of Disease in Childhood, the researchers say their survey was limited to supplements sold by UK retailers. Because multivitamins are classed as food products, under European Union regulations, the permissible vitamin D content can range from 20% below, to 50% above, the amount stated on the label, they say.

“There is a wide range of both multivitamins and vitamin D supplements available for children in the UK, yet most of these do not provide the recommended 400 IU/day,” they write.

Responding to the paper, Dr Benjamin Jacobs of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), called on the Government to ensure some foods and milk are fortified with vitamin D, as is already done in several countries.

“A normal healthy UK diet provides less than 10% of the recommended amount of vitamin D. The natural way to obtain vitamin D is from sunlight - but there is inadequate exposure to sunlight in the UK so supplements are the only way to ensure UK children get the recommended dose,” he said.

“To learn that so many products fail to provide children with the recommended level of vitamin D is highly concerning, especially when latest evidence shows our children’s average intake are still below the recommended amount.”

Moon R, Curtis E, Cooper C et al. Vitamin D supplementation: are multivitamins sufficient? Archives of Disease in Childhood 26 February 2019; doi 10.1136/archdischild-2018-316339

Tags: Alternative Therapy | Child Health | Diet & Food | Orthopaedics | UK News

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