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to be getting hot and bothered about the Vit D push?

(357 Posts)
stinkingbishop Thu 10-Jul-14 14:47:34

I am prepared to be corrected but, having been hassled yet again by the HV about giving the twins Vit D because of the oft cited 'rise in Rickets', and saying, again, that they had a good diet, including oily fish, and play outside, and again being made to feel like I am stubborn/neglectful, I am getting rather worked up.

As I understand it, one of the main reasons we all have different coloured skin is because we have evolved to be able to absorb the optimum amount of Vit D from the sun (or rather for the sun to catalyse our absorption). Those in very sunny climes have darker skin so they don't overload; us peely wallies are that way because we have such brief windows. Interestingly, it's why Inuits have darker skin than, say, Scandinavians, because they eat so much fish. Very clever, Nature.

Vit D deficiency is caused by a mismatch between your current environment and what you evolved for. So someone whose ancestors lived in the Congo and is now in Stornoway really needs to eat a lot of herring. It's compounded by inner city living eg not having a garden, being inside most of the time. And also strikes some Asian populations because of vegetarian diets and processed flours used in eg chapatis, and because of a culture of covering up, especially girls, and staying at home.

I can't find anything online which shows the incidence of Rickets amongst caucasian children in Britain who play outside regularly (15 mins a day) and have a good diet. Is there anything? Have there been cases? Where should I be looking?

If it genuinely is a problem, I will calm down. But at the moment I just wonder to what extent this national, indiscriminatory push is motivated by the Government's desire not to be seen as racially profiling (but we SHOULD profile for some conditions, because your ethnicity does correlate with various issues and potential issues) and/or because they're using some research funded by whoever it is manufactures the supplements (I have no evidence of this because again I can't find anything).

So, do I calm down, or do I fire something off to whoever is in charge of briefing Health Visitors? It just seems yet another thing to beat nervous, unsure new Mums with. For the vast majority of whom, if I'm correct, this is a complete non-issue.

Pico2 Thu 10-Jul-14 14:52:00

We, and often nurseries, cover children in sunscreen and hats, which must impact the production of vitamin D.

stinkingbishop Thu 10-Jul-14 14:53:18

That sounds reasonable...but is there any evidence of its impact?

GrendelsMinim Thu 10-Jul-14 14:59:21

Is this what you're looking for?

erin99 Thu 10-Jul-14 14:59:40

No evidence, but a friend's little girl was diagnosed with vit D deficiency so I am wary.

The huge change in our behaviour in the last 20-30 years has been sun cream technology and use. There is a reason for this - we haven't evolved much protection against skin cancer either because other stuff tended to kill you first until recently. But if children are slathered in high factor sun cream every day, which they haven't evolved to do, why should their skin be able to make enough vit D 'through' that? I don't give drops, but I also don't cover them in factor 50 every waking hour.

apermanentheadache Thu 10-Jul-14 15:01:37

I don't know, but.... as the mother of twins you are more at risk of Vit D insufficiency yourself. Not very helpful but I thought I would share grin

GrendelsMinim Thu 10-Jul-14 15:02:48

Also possibly these are of relevance:

mummybare Thu 10-Jul-14 15:04:38

I am curious about this too. I don't give DD (2yo) supplements. We go out daily and she has a great diet too, so I've viewed it the same way you do, OP, but I'd like to know if I really should be supplementing...

thesaurusgirl Thu 10-Jul-14 15:05:45

I'm white and blood tests showed I was desperately short of Vitamin D despite having two long haul holidays to the sun a year, during which time I would bake in a bikini.

Supplementation has changed my life - I'm always saying so on here. My periods are no longer painful, my skin is better, I'm sharper mentally and don't suffer from low moods so often, and I have tons more energy.

I do also supplement with K2 and love dairy so I'm keeping the dangers of excessive doses of D3 at bay, but we are all made differently and who knows how other people are affected. More constructive to get yourself and your children tested rather than getting huffy with your HV.

MrsTerryPratchett Thu 10-Jul-14 15:09:11

There was a study done in Canada (no link, sorry) that found that, of the people they tested, some white people were deficient, a significant proportion of the Asian people they tested were and ALL the African/Caribbean people they tested were. All of them.

Obviously, the light issue is a big deal in Canada but I would assume the same higher rise in rickets because of immigration, would apply here as in the UK.

I do wonder about the indigenous people here. First Nations people traditionally ate salmon as the main part of their protein (actually pretty much all their protein here in BC) and have darker skin than Europeans. Now, their diets are different, I wonder if rickets is on the rise.

sashh Thu 10-Jul-14 15:14:26


I have the skin colour of my Irish and Scottish ancestors. You know the facebook pic. 'no not that Irish girl sunbathing, the other one' that's me.

When my GP did a blood test my VitD was 7.

If you don't want to give your children supplements then why not have them tested and see what their levels are?

museumum Thu 10-Jul-14 15:17:35

Where do you live? If you're in Scotland then google vit D and MS. It seems to be emerging as a link and possible explanation for our high levels of MS.
Unless you actually eat as much herring as a traditional Scandinavian diet (pretty much every day).

fanjobiscuits Thu 10-Jul-14 15:22:47

I don't give other vit supplements to little biscuits but do both give vit d and take myself (as bfing). A close friend had vit d deficiency so I know a bit about it. I would do your research about it and make your decision based on that. My understanding is:
* can't get enough vit d from diet alone
* can easily get enough from sun if right conditions met
* won't get vit d from sun in UK between April - Oct, or at start or end of day even in summer
* if you have LOTS of vit d yourself your bm is more likely to give what's needed to your baby (less sure about this last one as not so much research/coverage)

I try to get baby and me out briefly in the sun whenever possible, without sunscreen, to cover all bases!

Pobblewhohasnotoes Thu 10-Jul-14 15:46:13

From what I understood (partly from what I've read as a children's nurse but also like you from being nagged about vitamin D by the HV), the incidence of rickets is rising as we aren't exposing our children to the sun and are slapping on factor 50 as soon as they step outside.

I have a vitamin D deficiency, picked up after I gave birth and now take high dose vitamin D. I don't slather my DS in sun cream at every opportunity partly as he has eczema and it irritates his skin but I want him to have at least 20 minutes sun exposure so he makes Vit D. He is dairy allergic to so we have to make sure his soya milk has calcium and vitamin D etc in it.

While I agree with your comments on skin colour, diet, etc, I think the evidence is starting to point to 'avoiding rickets' not being the target level of Vit D. Seems to be implicated in other stuff like MS as mentioned above.

Suppose it's a bit like the difference between eating enough fruit not to get scurvy, and eating your 5-a-day to lower your odds of cancer. Or whatever 5-a-day is for. 7-a-day actually. As a certified sun- and fruit-dodger, I am not all that concerned.

MyFairyKing Thu 10-Jul-14 16:00:21

The trouble with vitamin D is that when you're deficient, you can feel so unbelievably unwell and the symptoms are quite vague, so getting diagnosed can be hard. That said, more people are now being tested for it.

There is a link between Vit D and MS, (as well as other autoimmune diseases such as; Systemic Lupus) so I would err on the side of caution.

PixieofCatan Thu 10-Jul-14 16:07:27

I think it is an issue, at least my doctor says that she's having to prescribe a lot of tablets for it now and they're routinely testing for it. She's one who doesn't like prescribing tablets if it's something that you can change/improve without. I have been having bloods done for something else and VitD was tested routinely, I have worryingly low VitD levels and have been put on 3/4 months of high strength Vitamin D tablets. I was also "prescribed" shorts, tops with no sleeves and being outside for at least 30 minutes a day if it's sunny.

Funnily enough I'm mixed race, White Asian but I am more White than Asian in colouring!

Suncream is causing issues as it's so good and we slather it on.

PixieofCatan Thu 10-Jul-14 16:08:12

And I'm vegetarian, which doesn't help!

TalkinPeace Thu 10-Jul-14 16:10:46
White Anglo Saxon kids with damaged bones.

stinkingbishop Thu 10-Jul-14 16:11:28

grendel thanks for those, that's really helpful. So the incidence of Rickets in Caucasian children is 0.4/100,000. That's obviously 0.4 too many, but.

I've just skimmed the other articles and, yes, maybe there is more of an incidence than I thought. Intuitively you can see how a low income family living in a tower block with a poor diet may be at risk, regardless of pigmentation. But this all seems just a bit sledgehammer/nut. Wouldn't it be a better source of resources to do something much more targeted? The Manchester study I read was banging on about chapati supplement that??

There's no point getting mine tested - they're just not deficient, DP's job involves us getting lots of free fish for a start so they were practically weaned on sardine pasta, and we're lucky enough to be able to spend lots of time outdoors. This isn't a personal issue/worry - it just narks me when Mums are given so many bits of advice, often conflicting, and sometimes just irrelevant. There are enough real concerns to be getting on with!

stinkingbishop Thu 10-Jul-14 16:14:53

boulevard and fairyking that's interesting. And the 5 a day/scurvy/cancer et al analogy's a good one.

Right, I will save my 'angry of MN' letter for now until have done more research, methinks wink.

TwuntingCrow Thu 10-Jul-14 16:16:01

Vit D deficiency is also linked to the increase in juvenile diabetes .. I supplement my toddler and we have a rule of an hours exposure to sun before slapping on the sunscreen
Healthcare professionals are right to be encouraging supplementation - I can see huge future implications as a direct result of kids spending less time out doors and the massively over cautious health promotion of sun care ..

MyFairyKing Thu 10-Jul-14 16:17:18

Dietary vitamin D counts for very little, it's the vitamin D you get from sunlight that matters.

It's also not just rickets, it's the link with ill health and autoimmune disease that concerns me.

daisychicken Thu 10-Jul-14 16:17:32

I am Vitamin D deficient and it was only picked up due to ill health which led to an eventual diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. I was shocked tbh, I spent 2-3hrs a day outside 365 days a year working on allotments and walking the dog so I always thought I'd be able to make enough Vit D.

Someone up thread mentioned the link of Vitamin D and MS, well it's also linked to fibromyalgia and CFS/ME and a huge number of other conditions so I do believe it's more of a concern than initially thought. I think diet, covering up and sunscreen has played a huge role in deficiencies and a recent research article (I don't have the details to hand) has shown that intensive farming has led to decreased vitamins and minerals in our food.

I think if you are offered the vitamins, then it's worth taking them. I do buy a vitamin and mineral supplement for my family as I strongly think it is worth having.

TalkinPeace Thu 10-Jul-14 16:17:37

its a preventative more than anything else.

When I was preg with DD the big kick was folic acid supplements because it was not yet being routinely added to flour.
Since then cases of neural tube defects have dropped significantly.

Rickets is one aspect, MS is another, depression is another.
If we can take simple steps in childhood to reduce massive long term medical bills
and fish and sunlight are not controversial
then it has to be worth it

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