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Study shows low vitamin D in UK toddlers' diets

Study shows low vitamin D in UK toddlers' diets
Apr 6, 2016

UK toddlers are not only consuming an over-abundance of calories and protein but are also not receiving enough vitamin D or iron through their diets, says a study.

The study, published today in the British Journal of Nutrition, collected data from 2,236 children in the UK from 2008 to 2009. The data came from the Gemini twin birth cohort, one of the UK’s largest dietary datasets. The results found that the daily calorie intake of toddlers was 7 per cent higher than what has been recommended by the public health nutrition guidelines. At 21 months, 63 per cent of children exceeded the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition’s recommended daily intake of 968 calories, consuming an average of 1035 calories per day.

Almost 70 per cent of children did not meet the recommended 6.9 micrograms daily dietary intake of iron. Protein intake was around three times higher than recommended, with almost all toddlers exceeding the Department of Health recommendations.

Notably, the average vitamin D intake was 2.3 micrograms a day, which is much less than the 7-10 micrograms guidance made by many government groups. Supplements were taken by only 7 per cent of children, yet UK health authorities recommend that all children under five should receive a vitamin D supplement.

Hayley Syrad of the Department of Epidemiology & Health at University College London, was the lead author of the study. He said the findings suggested that “the current diets of young children in England are a cause for concern.”

“Given the associations between inadequate vitamin D and poor health, this underlines the importance of the current government recommendations that all children aged 6 months to 5 years should take a daily supplement containing vitamin D,” he added.

Some toddler foods are now fortified with vitamin D and iron, but according to this study, young children are still not getting enough. Although intakes of vitamin D and iron were increased through supplements, most children were still not meeting the recommendations for vitamin D. This underlines the importance of the government recommendations that all children aged six months to five years should take a daily supplement of vitamin D, no matter what their diet.

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