Why do I need vitamin D?

Vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium from the diet. Vitamin D helps to keep bones and teeth strong and healthy. In Bradford, All infants are supplemented with free Healthy Start vitamin drops from birth up to 6 months of age. The Department of Health recommends all children be given the vitamin drops till they are 5 years old.

What are the signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?

  • Bone pain
  • Muscle weakness and cramps
  • Poor growth
  • Bone deformities in extreme cases 

Who is at risk of vitamin D deficiency?

All children need vitamin D for growth and to stay healthy. However, some children are at a greater risk of developing deficiency because they:

  • Are South Asian, African, African Caribbean or Middle Eastern
  • Have low exposure to sunlight on the skin
  • Have a poor or restrictive diet
  • Are breast fed or bottle fed
  • Are a frequent sunscreen user

Where do we get vitamin D from?

We get most of our vitamin D from the action of sunlight on the skin. Only very little vitamin D is obtained from the diet.

Going outside without sunscreen for 15-20 minutes every day in the summer months (April-September) should be enough to make enough vitamin D. However, children with darker skin need more time in the sun to make the same amount of vitamin D than children with fairer skin. It is important not to let the skin redden or burn.

Which foods are good sources of vitamin D?

Only very few foods contain vitamin D.  These include:

  • Oily fish (salmon, sardines, pilchards, trout etc.)
  • Breakfast cereals fortified with vitamin D
  • Eggs
  • Margarine
  • Evaporated milk (and some milk powders)

Healthy Start Vitamin Drops for Children

Your health visitor will give your child free vitamin drops to take from birth till they are 6 months old. The vitamin drops contain vitamins A, C and D and should be given daily.

After 6 months, your health visitor will signpost you to either the Healthy Start Scheme (and if eligible, you can get free vitamin drops for your child till they are 4 years old) or to the nearest health centre or pharmacy where you can buy the vitamin drops for a small cost. Some children, who are at a high risk of developing vitamin D deficiency will continue to receive the vitamin drops from their health visitor for free until they are 2 years old. For more information about the vitamin drops, speak to your health visitor or check this leaflet (PDF).


  • Give your child Healthy Start vitamin drops daily.
  • Let your child enjoy being outside in the sun, without sunscreen for 15-20 minutes daily. Never let them redden or burn.
  • Eat foods rich in vitamin D regularly.

For more information on the Healthy Start Scheme and vitamin drops, visit www.healthystart.nhs.uk or call the helpline on 0345 607 6823