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GPs to be reminded of at risk groups for vitamin D

More than half of health professionals unaware of recommendations on supplementation

Ingrid Torjesen

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The chief medical officer for England, Dame Sally Davies, is to contact GPs over concerns that many young children and some adults are not getting enough vitamin D.

Government guidelines recommend that some groups, including the under-fives, should take a daily supplement containing vitamin D, but research has found that nearly three quarters of parents and almost half of health professionals are not aware of this advice.

Dame Sally said: “It is important to raise awareness of this issue, and I will be contacting health professionals on the need to prescribe and recommend vitamin D supplements to at-risk groups.”

Vitamin D supplements are recommended for all people at risk of a deficiency, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, children under five years old, people aged over 65, and people at risk of not getting enough exposure to sunlight which produces vitamin D in the body.

Dame Sally said: "We know a significant proportion of people in the UK probably have inadequate levels of vitamin D in their blood. Our experts are clear - low levels of vitamin D can increase the risk of poor bone health, including rickets in young children.

"Many health professionals such as midwives, GPs and nurses give advice on supplements, and it is crucial they continue to offer this advice as part of routine consultations and ensure disadvantaged families have access to free vitamin supplements through our Healthy Start scheme.

The Department of Health has also asked the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition to review current dietary recommendations on vitamin D.

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