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Growing children, especially those who don't eat a varied diet, sometimes don't get enough vitamins A and C. It's also difficult to get enough vitamin D through food alone.

This is why the Department of Health recommends that all children from six months to five years old are given supplements, in the form of vitamin drops, which contain vitamins A, C and D.

Your health visitor can give you advice on vitamin drops and tell you where to get them. You’re entitled to free vitamin drops if you qualify for Healthy Start. Some supplements that can be bought over-the-counter in pharmacies contain other vitamins or ingredients. Talk to your pharmacist about which supplement would be most suitable for your child.

Having too much of some vitamins can be harmful. Keep to the recommended dose stated on the label, and be careful not to give your child two supplements at the same time. For example, don’t give them cod liver oil and vitamin drops, as cod liver oil also contains vitamins A and D. One supplement on its own is strong enough.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is only found in a few foods, such as oily fish and eggs. It's also added to some foods, such as fat spreads and breakfast cereals.

The best source of vitamin D is summer sunlight on our skin. But it's important to keep your child's skin safe in the sun. More information about sun safety for children can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/safety-in-the-sun/

Children shouldn't be out in the sun too long in hot weather. Remember to cover up or protect their skin before it turns red or burns.

Young children should still have vitamin drops, even if they get out in the sun.

The Department of Health recommends that:

  • Babies from birth to 1 year of age who are being breastfed should be given a daily supplement containing 8.5 to 10 micrograms (µg) of vitamin D to make sure they get enough. This is whether or not you're taking a supplement containing vitamin D yourself.
  • Babies fed infant formula shouldn't be given a vitamin D supplement if they're having more than 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula a day, because infant formula is fortified with vitamin D and other nutrients.
  • Children aged 1 to 4 years old should be given a daily supplement containing 10µg of vitamin D.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is important for babies and young children, and they may not be getting enough. It strengthens their immune system, can help their vision in dim light, and maintains healthy skin.

Good sources of vitamin A include:

  • dairy products
  • fortified fat spreads
  • carrots, sweet potatoes, swede and mangoes
  • dark green vegetables such as spinach, cabbage and broccoli

Vitamin C

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is important for your child’s general health and their immune system. It can also help their body absorb iron.

Good sources of vitamin C include:

  • oranges
  • kiwi fruit
  • strawberries
  • broccoli
  • tomatoes
  • peppers