This question has got a little complicated of late, so I’ll try to answer it as simply as possible.
For the general population, if they are consuming a healthy, well-balanced diet, more often than not supplementation is unnecessary – unless we are talking about Vitamin D! (I’ve written a blog post all about the New Vitamin D Recommendations, so check that out if you’re interested.)
For certain groups of the population, such as pregnant women, babies and young children supplementation IS necessary as a safe guard against low intakes or deficiencies.
Current recommendations for vitamins for young babies:
Currently, the UK Department of Health recommends vitamin drops containing vitamin A, C and D for young children. This is because it was previously thought that children in the UK were are at risk of not getting enough vitamin A and vitamin C in their diet, and also because vitamin D is extremely hard to get from food alone. Vitamin D is a nutrient that we mainly get from the sunlight, very little is in our food but some sources of vitamin D in the diet include oily fish, eggs and some fortified breakfast cereals.
However, recent government reports actually suggest that most children (especially those under 1 year of age) get more than enough vitamin A in their diet and so, if children are consuming a healthy, balanced diet then they are unlikely to be missing out on vitamin A (or vitamin C).
Regardless of this, current guidelines suggest the following….
At what age does my baby need vitamin supplements?
- New recommendations now state that ALL breastfed children from 0-1 should take vitamin drops containing 8.5-10mcg of vitamin D daily.
- From 6 months of age, breastfed babies in the UK are also recommended to have vitamin drops that contain vitamin A and vitamin C, as well as the 10 mcg (micrograms) of vitamin D, daily. These should be given to baby up until they are around 5 years of age.
- For formula fed babies, or those mixed feeding, vitamin drops containing vitamin A, D and C are recommended as soon as your infant is having less than 500mls (less than a pint) of formula milk a day and right up until your little one reaches around 5 years of age.
This advice still currently stands, however, it’s been recommended that our Government review these current guidelines in light of evidence that the UK infant diet provides ample vitamin A.
“The low prevalence of vitamin A deficiency in the healthy infant population, despite the current low uptake of supplements, suggests the need to review recommendations on routine vitamin A supplementation…..It is recommended that government consider opportunities to review advice on supplements and foods containing vitamin A during infancy” SACN, 2018
How do I get the vitamin drops?
Some vitamin drop options available include the Government’s own Healthy Start Vitamin Drops (which you can actually buy at Superdrug as well as other pharmacies and supermarkets) or Abidec or Dalivit are good options for these vitamin drops too.
Because Raffy has a very well balanced diet, I choose to offer him vitamin D only drops as I know for a fact that he is getting enough vitamin A and vitamin C every day. I therefore choose to offer him the Wellbaby Vitamin D drops, once a day throughout the year.
For more information on What vitamins should I be giving to my baby, please see the NHS choices website.