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Vitamin D Campaign

Ray of sunshine

Stop Rickets - the Birmingham Campaign

Vitamin D is important for strong bones, particularly during stages of rapid bone growth such as the early years. It is not easy to get enough vitamin D from food sources, and we get most of our requirement from the action of sunlight on the skin. However:

  • The UVB rays needed to produce vitamin D are only available in Birmingham and areas further north between the months of April and October, and in the middle of the day (11am to 3pm).
  • Modern working patterns, use of sun screen, and changes to children’s playing habits, as well as cultural dress which covers most of the skin, all mean that Birmingham residents are not likely to be producing enough vitamin D.
  • Age and skin pigmentation also make the process of vitamin D formation less effective.

The most common problem caused by vitamin D deficiency is rickets, which develops in vitamin D-deficient toddlers as they are starting to learn to walk. Through lack of vitamin D, their bones are soft and their legs become bowed. Other bone deformities can be seen on x-ray. Rickets is treatable and the bones then go back to normal.

What is being done about it?

In an effort to prevent cases of rickets, Birmingham has introduced a citywide policy of FREE vitamin supplements for women from the start of pregnancy until their child is 12 months old, and for all children under four. Healthy Start Vitamins for Women and Children's Vitamin Drops are available from Health Visiting teams, some Health Centres and Children’s Centres and some pharmacies (look out for the poster in the window).

To find out the nearest place for you to pick up your FREE vitamins, download this document, and look for your area. Vitamin D Collection Sites

If you would like to become an issuing site for the vitamins, please contact Linda Bluck; linda.bluck@bhamcommunity.nhs.uk; Tel: 0121 466 6226 

Please click on the link to download a leaflet giving more information about the vitamin scheme and campaign. Leaflets are available in English, Polish, Romanian, Somali, Arabic, Urdu, Pashto, Bengali, Punjabi.

In 2016, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition recommended that  older children and adults who are not pregnant or postnatal should take a daily supplement containing 10 µg a day of vitamin D, at least during winter months. Those who don’t go out with exposed skin, or who are house bound, are advised to take a daily supplement all year round. These can be bought cheaply in pharmacies and supermarkets.

Oily fish is the best dietary source of vitamin D and it is recommended that everyone includes a portion of oily fish a week, for its protective effects against heart disease.