Three quarters of vitamin D products for children do not contain recommended dose

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Only a quarter of multivitamins aimed at children contain the recommended level of vitamin D, according to research.

Health officials recommend anyone over the age of one receive a daily 10 microgram (400IU) vitamin D supplement.

While infants aged under one should be given a 8.5 to 10 microgram (340-400IU) daily vitamin D supplement to ensure they get enough. 

But a study, branded ‘highly concerning’, has now found the multivitamin market is flooded with products that fail to hit the recommended dose.

Vitamins produced by Bassetts, Haliborange, Holland and Barrett, and Vitabiotics were among those who had products below the guidelines.

Bassetts soft chew raspberry-flavoured multivitamins, aimed at seven to 11 year olds, contained just 200IU of vitamin D

Bassetts soft chew raspberry-flavoured multivitamins, aimed at seven to 11 year olds, contained just 200IU of vitamin D

While Colief's Vitamin D3 Drops has just 320IU

While Colief's Vitamin D3 Drops has just 320IU

Bassetts soft chew raspberry-flavoured multivitamins, aimed at seven to 11 year olds, contained just 200IU of vitamin D, while Colief’s Vitamin D3 Drops has just 320IU

A team of academics based at the universities of Oxford and Southampton analysed dozens of vitamins aimed at children.

They were sold by Asda, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Boots, Holland and Barrett, Lloyds Pharmacy and Superdrug.

Vitamin D is essential to prevent rickets, a condition that affects bone development in children and which can lead to the growth of soft, weak and deformed limbs. 

It is difficult to get enough vitamin D from diet, and the main source is sunshine. But the weather in the UK means there is limited sunlight from November to March.

In total, 67 multivitamin products made by 24 different manufacturers were included in the study, published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Only one multivitamin was suitable for use from birth – by Abidec – and this supplied 200IU per day – around half the recommended amount.

For children under six months, only one multivit contained more than 340 IU/day vitamin D, but this was only recommended from four months of age.

For children over six months, between 25 and 36 per cent of the available products provided the recommended 400IU per day.

Holland and Barrett's Baby Vitamin D3 formulated for babies liquid contains just 200IU of vitamin D

Holland and Barrett's Baby Vitamin D3 formulated for babies liquid contains just 200IU of vitamin D

Centrum Kids Chewable Multivitamin has just 120IU

Centrum Kids Chewable Multivitamin has just 120IU

Holland and Barrett’s Baby Vitamin D3 formulated for babies liquid contains just 200IU of vitamin D, while Centrum Kids Chewable Multivitamin has just 120IU

HOW COMMON ARE VITAMIN D DEFICIENCIES? 

The number of people being hospitalised for the ‘Victorian’ diseases scurvy, rickets and gout has risen by a quarter in a single year, it was revealed today.

NHS figures show the old-fashioned illnesses, and vitamin D deficiencies, are on the rise and sending children as young as nine to hospital wards.

Vitamin D deficiency is the biggest problem of the four, the data showed, with the bone-weakening condition shooting up by 34 per cent in a year.

There were a total of 267,511 hospital admissions in 2017/18 for those four conditions – a rise of 26 per cent on 212,239 the year before.

More than a third of all those patients had a vitamin D deficiency as either their main diagnosis or something which was noticed afterwards.

The team of researchers, led by Dr Nicholas Harvey, also looked at specific vitamin D products and vitamins marketed as being for healthy bones.

Of the 24 products that were available, the range of vitamin D in them ranged from between 50 to 1,000IU.

Six products were suitable from birth, of which five contained 340 to 400IU per day – around the recommended amount.  

Nearly two thirds of the vitamin D specific products contained at least 400 IU/day, found Dr Harvey and colleagues. 

The authors wrote: ‘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.

‘Multivitamins typically had lower vitamin D content than pure vitamin D supplements or “healthy bones” products, although some products labelled as “for bones” contained very low levels of vitamin D.’

The team also looked at the Government’s Healthy Start scheme, which provides free multivitamins to low-income families, but these provide only 300IU per day of vitamin D. 

Haliborange's Baby & Toddler Multivitamins Everyday Health for one month olds contains just 70IU of vitamin D

Haliborange's Baby & Toddler Multivitamins Everyday Health for one month olds contains just 70IU of vitamin D

The team also looked at the Government's Healthy Start scheme, which provides free multivitamins to low-income families, but these provide only 300IU

The team also looked at the Government's Healthy Start scheme, which provides free multivitamins to low-income families, but these provide only 300IU

Haliborange’s Baby & Toddler Multivitamins Everyday Health for one month olds contains just 70IU of vitamin D. The team also looked at the Government’s Healthy Start scheme, which provides free multivitamins to low-income families, but these provide only 300IU

Dr Benjamin Jacobs, from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said: ‘A normal healthy UK diet provides less than 10 per cent 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.

‘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.

‘These products are misleading parents who think they are protecting their children from serious conditions such as rickets, poor growth and muscle weakness.

‘I would advise all parents to check that the supplements they use contain the recommended 400 units of vitamin D and consult their pharmacist if they are unsure.’ 

He also said the Government should seriously consider fortifying some foods and milk with vitamin D.

Dr Carrie Ruxton, from the industry-funded health and food supplements information service (HSIS), said: ‘Food supplements are meant to supplement the diet, not replace the nutrients obtained from foods.

‘In that respect, and since there are varying recommendations across different age groups of children, it is right that different supplements offer different doses.

‘Smaller doses allow parents to use the same product for younger and older children by varying the amount given.

‘According to the most recent National Diet and Nutrition Survey data, children and adolescents are only getting a fifth of the recommended vitamin D intake of 10 microgram from food alone.

‘Many of the supplements in this survey would actually bridge the dietary gap topping up intake towards the recommended 10 microgram daily.’ 

WHAT WERE THE PRODUCTS THAT WERE STUDIED? 
BRAND PRODUCT (MULTIVITAMINS) FORM AGE RANGE VITAMIN D
Abidec Multivitamin drops for babies and children Liquid Birth – 1 year 200
Abidec Multivitamin drops for babies and children Liquid 1 year – 12 years 400
Abidec Advanced Multivitamin Syrup plus omega 6 & 9 Liquid 1 year 5 years 300
ASDA Children’s Health Multivitamin Jellies Soft chew >3 years 300
ASDA Childrens Health Chewable Multivitamins & minerals Chewable Tablet 3 years 7 years 300
ASDA Childrens Health Chewable Multivitamins & minerals Chewable Tablet >7 years 600
Bassetts Multivitamins (Strawberry flavour ) Soft chew 3 years 6 years 200
Bassetts Multivitamins (Orange flavour) Soft chew 3 years 6 years 200
Bassetts Multivitamins + Omega-3 (Blackcurrant and Apple flavour) Soft chew 3 years 6 years 200
Bassetts Multivitamins + Vitamin D & Calcium (Peach & Apricot flavour) Soft chew 3 years 6 years 400
Bassetts Multivitamins (Raspberry flavour) Soft chew 7 years 11 years 200
Bassetts Multivitamins + Omega-3 (Tropical Flavour) Soft chew 7 years 11 years 200
Better You MultiVit Oral Spray Oral Spray 1 year 16 years 400
Bioglan Family Multivitamin VitaGummies Soft Chew >4 years 100-200
Boots Pharmaceuticals Kids Chewable Multivitamin A-Z Chewable Tablet >3 years 300
Boots Pharmaceuticals Kids Multivitamin Syrup Liquid >6 months 280
Boots Pharmaceuticals Kids Multivitamin Gummy Packs Soft Chew >3 years 400
Boots Pharmaceuticals Kids Multivitamin Gummies Soft Chew >3 years 400
Boots Pharmaceuticals Kids Omega 3 Chewable Capsule >3 years 200
Centrum Kids Chewable Multivitamin Chewable Tablet > 4 years 120
Floradix Kindervital for Children Fruity Formula Liquid >3 years 280
Gumi Junior Multivit Gummies Soft Chew >3 years 400
Gumi Junior Immunity Gummies Soft Chew >3 years 400
Haliborange Baby & Toddler Multivitamins Everyday Health Liquid 1 month – 4months 70
Haliborange Baby & Toddler Multivitamins Everyday Health Liquid 4 months – 4 years 140
Haliborange Baby & Toddler Multivitamins Everyday Health Liquid >4 years 280
Haliborange Softies Multivitamins Everyday Health (Orange flavour) Soft Chew 3 years 12 years 100-200
Haliborange Softies Multivitamins Everyday Health (Strawberry flavour) Soft Chew 3 years 12 years 100-200
Haliborange Multivitamins Calcium & Iron Everyday Health Chewable Tablet >3 years 100-200
Haliborange Vitamins A C & D chewable tablets Chewable Tablet >3 years 200
Haliborange Mr Men Little Miss Multivitamins Soft Chew >3 years 100-200
Haliborange Mr Men Little Miss Omega-3 & Multivitamins Soft Chew 3 years 7 years 100-200
Haliborange Mr Men Little Miss Softies Omega-3 & Multivitamins 7 Daily Packs Soft Chew 3 years 7 years 100
Haliborange Mr Men Little Miss A C & D Chewable Tablet >3 years 200
Haliborange Softies Omega-3 & Multivitamins Soft Chew 3 years 12 years 100-200
Haliborange Omega-3 DHA with Vitamins A C D & D Brain Support Liquid 3 years 12 years 200
Haliborange Omega-3 DHA with Vitamins A C D & D Brain Support Bursts Chewable Capsule 3 years 12 years 200-300
Higher Nature Kids Vital Vits Chewable Tablet >3 years 200
Holland & Barrett Healthy Kids Multivitamins plus Omega 3 Soft Chew >3 years 100
Holland & Barrett Healthy Kids Multivitamins Soft Chew >3 years 100
Holland & Barrett Pre-Vites plus Iron Chewable Tablet >3 years 400
Holland & Barrett Baby Multivitamin Liquid Liquid 1 month 6 months 140
Holland & Barrett Baby Multivitamin Liquid Liquid 6 months – 11 years 280
Holland & Barrett Baby Multivitamin Liquid Liquid >11 years 560
Holland & Barrett Healthy Kids Omega 3 Fish Oils with A D E & C Chewable capsule >3 years 200
Mill House Jelly Bears Multivitamins Soft Chew >3 years 100-200
Mill House Jelly Bears Omega 3 and Multivitamins Soft Chew >3 years 50-100
Mill House Jelly Bears Calcium and Multivitamins Soft Chew >3 years 100-200
Mill House Jelly Bears Zinc and Multivitamins Soft Chew >3 years 100-200
Lloyds Pharmacy Childrens Vitamins ABCDE Soft Chew >3 years 300
Minavex Multivitamin liquid Liquid 1 year 4 years 100
Minavex Multivitamin liquid Liquid >4 years 200
Morrisons Kids ABCDE Jelly Vitamins Soft Chew >3 years 200
Morrisons Kids Chewable Multivitamins Chewable Tablet >3 years 100
Natures Aid Multivitamin Drops Liquid 3 months 5 years 300
Natures Aid Kidz Daily Multi-vitamin & Minerals Liquid 6 years – 12 years 600
Natures Aid Kidz Immune Support Liquid 6 years -12 years 400
Nature’s Way Alive! Gummies Multi-vitamin for Children Soft Chew >2 years 400
Nature’s Way Alive! Childrens Chewable Multivitamin Chewable Tablet >2 years 600
NHS Healthy Start Children’s Vitamin Drops Liquid >6 months 300
Optima Healthcare Junior Multi Plus Chewable Tablet >2 years 100
Sainsburys Kids Chewable Multivitamin & Minerals Chewable Tablet >3 years 200
Tender Loving Care UK Ltd Chewy Vites Kids MultiVitamin Advance Chewable Tablet 1 year 3 years 200
Tender Loving Care UK Ltd Chewy Vites Kids MultiVitamin Advance Chewable Tablet >4 years 200-400
Tesco Kids Jelly Multivitamins with A, B, C, D + E (Strawberry) Soft Chew >3 years 300
Tesco Kids Jelly Multivitamins with A, B, C, D + E (Orange) Soft Chew >3 years 300
Tesco Kids Chewable Multivitamins Plus Minerals Chewable Tablet >3 years 400
Vitabiotics Wellbaby Multi-vitamin Liquid Liquid 6 months 4 years 400
Vitabiotics Wellbaby Multi-vitamin Drops Liquid 4 months 12 months 400
Vitabiotics Wellkid Multi-vitamin Liquid Liquid 4 years 10 years 400
Vitabiotics Wellkid Multi-vitamin Liquid Liquid 11 years – 12 years 800
Vitabiotics Wellkid Smart Chewable Multi-vitamin Chewable Tablet 4 years 12 years 400
Vitabiotics Wellkid Immune Chewable Multi-vitamins & Minerals Chewable Tablet 4 years 12 years 280
Vitabiotics Wellkid Soft Jelly Pastilles Multi-vitamins & Flaxseed oil (Orange flavour) Soft Chew 4 years 12 years 0
Vitabiotics Wellkid Soft Jelly Pastilles Multi-vitamins & Flaxseed oil (Strawberry flavour) Soft Chew 4 years 12 years 0
Vitabiotics Wellkid Peppa Pig Multi-vits Soft Chew 3 years 7 years 400
BRAND PRODUCT (VITAMIN D) FORM AGE RANGE VITAMIN D
Better You DLux Junior Oral Spray >3 years 400
Better You DLux Infant Oral Spray Birth 3 years 400
Boots Pharmaceuticals Kids Vitamin D Gummies Soft Chew >3 years 400
Colief Vitamin D3 drops Liquid >1 month 320
Ddrops Baby Ddrops Liquid From birth 400
Gumi Family Vitamin D3 Soft Chew >3 years 400
Haliborange Calcium & Vitamin D Softies Soft Chew 3 years 12 years 200-400
Haliborange Mr Men Little Miss Calcium & Vitamin D Soft Chew >3 years 200-400
Higher Nature Kids Relax & Unwind for Bones and Relaxation Dissolvable Powder >3years 50
Higher Nature Kids Growing Bones Chewable Tablet >3 years 100
Holland & Barrett Baby Vitamin D3 formulated for babies Liquid Birth 6 months 200
Holland & Barrett Baby Vitamin D3 formulated for babies Liquid 6 months 12 months 320
Holland & Barrett Healthy Kids Vitamin D3 plus calcium Soft Chew >3 years 200
Holland & Barrett Healthy Kids Vitamin D3 formulated for kids Liquid >1 year 340
Internis Pharmaceuticals Fultium Daily D3 drops Liquid Birth 1 year 340
Internis Pharmaceuticals Fultium Daily D3 drops Liquid >1 year 400
Morrisons Kids Chewable Vitamin D Chewable Tablet >3 years 400
Natures Aid Vitamin D3 mini drops Liquid Birth 5 years 400
Natures Aid Kidz Bone Support Liquid 6 years 12 years 600
Natures Way Alive! Calcium Soft Jell Soft Chew >3 years 1000
Natures Way Alive! Vitamin D3 Soft Jell Soft Chew >3 years 1000
Tender Loving Care UK Ltd ChewyVites Kids Calcium & Vitamin D Soft Chew >1 year 200-400
Vitabiotics Wellbaby Vit D drops Liquid Birth 4 years 400
Vitabiotics Wellkid Calcium Liquid Liquid 4 years 6 years 280
Vitabiotics Wellkid Calcium Liquid Liquid 7 years -12 years 560
Vitabiotics Wellkid Peppa Pig vitamin D Soft Chew 3 7 years 400
Vitabiotics Wellkid Omega-3 plus vitamin D Chewable capsule 4 years 12 years 400-800

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