Most multivitamins don’t provide kids their daily dose of vitamin D

Lack of vitamin D can also lead to weak bones and lack of immunity. (AFP pic)

Children may not be getting the daily dose of vitamin D needed from their multivitamin, according to new research.

New UK research has found that few multivitamin or vitamin D supplements on the market for children provide the recommended dose of 400 IU a day of the vitamin.

Carried out by researchers at University Hospital Southampton and Southampton University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the new study looked at 67 multivitamins and 24 vitamin D supplements, or those which said they could help with “healthy bones,” aimed at children under the age of 12.

A product was considered a multivitamin if the packaging or the manufacturer’s website included the word ‘multivitamin’, or a version of this, or if more than one vitamin was named.

The findings, published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, showed that only 25% to 36% of the multivitamin products provided the recommended dose of 400 IU a day of vitamin D, depending on the child’s age.

When looking at the supplements containing only vitamin D, the team found that these products typically had a higher vitamin D content than the multivitamins, with nearly two thirds containing at least 400 IU/day, however products labelled specifically “for healthy bones” still had very low levels of the vitamin, with one product labelled “for bones and relaxation” containing only 50 IU/day of vitamin D.

The researchers noted in their findings that Public Health England recommends a daily dose of 400 IU (10 ug) all year round for 1- to 4-year-olds, and during the autumn and winter months for adults and children over the age of 4.

To achieve this dose with some of the products included in the study, children would either have to take more than the recommended dose, which comes with a risk of toxicity or take a combination of vitamin D and multivitamins, which is more expensive.

The researchers noted that the study only included products sold by UK retailers, and, as multivitamins are classed as food products under European Union regulations, the vitamin D content is allowed to range from 20% below to 50% above the amount stated on the label.

They now advise that parents check that the multivitamins they buy for children contain at least 400 IU/day.