Vitamin D Supplementation for Infants

The HSE recently launched its policy on Vitamin D Supplementation for infants in Ireland.

Vitamin D is essential to help our bodies use calcium to build and maintain bones and teeth.  Vitamin D is also known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because our bodies can make Vitamin D from the sun.  Ireland’s geographic position in Northern Europe means that there is inadequate sunlight to allow sufficient vitamin D production in our skin, especially between the months of October and March.  It is not possible for babies to safely get the vitamin D they need in this way as their skin should not be exposed to direct sunlight.  As babies grow very quickly between 0-12 months they have a greater need for vitamin D and since a babies diet is low in Vitamin D, there is a need to give babies a daily Vitamin D supplement.

The Department of Health & Children has endorsed the Food Safety Authority of Ireland’s (FSAI) recommendation that ‘All infants, whether breastfed or formula fed, should be given a daily supplement of 5µg (or 200I.U) Vitamin D.  This should be provided by a supplement containing vitamin D exclusively’.

The HSE Policy on Vitamin D Supplementation has been developed to implement this recommendation.  The policy with supporting documentation has been distributed internally to all relevant staff. 

The policy supports health professionals in advising parents / carers about the importance of Vitamin D supplementation.  Community and Hospital Dietitians are informing and supporting front line healthcare workers on the need for Vitamin D supplementation for infants. Information about the policy has been circulated to general practitioners, pharmacists and practice nurses.

A public awareness campaign to highlight the policy to expectant and new mothers on the need for infant vitamin D supplementation is being rolled out in early 2011.

Useful documents

HSE Policy on Vitamin D Supplementation

Information for Health Professionals on Vitamin D Supplementation Policy

Vitamin D public information poster

Vitamin D public information leaflet

Copies of the leaflet and poster can be ordered on or by contacting your local Health Promotion Department. 

Information leaflets for parents/ carers and health professionals in various languages