Skip to main content Help with accessibility

The role of Vitamin D for toddlers



The essential nutrient that's hard to come by

Vitamin D is essential for your toddler’s normal bone development and has other important functions in the body, such as supporting immune function. Generated by the body in response to sunlight, it is also available from a limited number of foods. However, it can be a challenge to get enough through diet and sunshine alone. Discover why supplementation is recommended, and what the risks are of not getting enough.

Vitamin D: The sunshine vitamin

Vitamin D is generated by the body when UVB rays shine on the skin. It is also found in in a small number of foods. Because the most efficient natural source of vitamin D is sunlight, it is sometimes known as the sunshine vitamin.

As a fat-soluble vitamin, it is stored in fat tissue for later use if the intake exceeds the amount the body needs.

An essential ingredient for growing bones

Your toddler’s absorption of calcium and phosphorous depend on sufficient levels of vitamin D. This makes it essential for normal bone development and healthy teeth.

With your toddler’s bones growing and strengthening at a rapid rate, a steady, adequate supply of vitamin D is vital for optimal development during this stage.

Vitamin D also helps to maintain normal levels of calcium within the blood, while playing a part in immune function, growth and the ability to fight infection.

Why many toddlers aren’t getting enough vitamin D

The latitude of the UK means that we only get sufficient levels of the UVB rays required to generate vitamin D between April and October. Sunshine hours within that time are patchy, and many parents wisely use sunscreen to protect toddlers’ skin during the stronger, more effective sunlight hours. Unfortunately, this restricts the levels of sun-generated vitamin D further.

Another barrier to sun-generated vitamin D is skin pigmentation. Children with darker skin, especially those of Asian, African and Middle Eastern origin are more likely to have lower levels of vitamin D. This is because skin with more pigment requires more time in the sun to generate vitamin D than fairer skin.

“Food sources help to increase vitamin D intake, but they don’t contain enough for an adequate supply.”

There are a few food sources of vitamin D, but only oily fish contain significant amounts. However, due to the potential low levels of pollutants found in fish like salmon, sardines and tuna, it’s recommended that toddlers have no more than two servings per week. Some breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamin D, but these provide just one quarter of recommended intakes in an average (30g) bowl.

Healthcare professionals advise supplementing your toddler’s diet with vitamin D to ensure they get enough

Supplement to be safe1

Due to the challenges involved in getting vitamin D, healthcare professionals advise supplementing your toddler’s diet with enough to meet their daily needs.

“The recommended intake of vitamin D for toddlers is 7mg per day.”

Aptamil Growing Up milk is fortified with vitamin D to support your toddler’s normal bone development at this important stage; two 150ml beakers provide their entire daily requirement1.

Understanding vitamin D deficiency in children

Insufficient intake of vitamin D can lead to a deficiency, which can increase your toddler’s risk of serious health issues, specifically:

  • Rickets – significantly low levels of vitamin D for a prolonged period can result in soft, poorly-formed bones
  • Other conditions – vitamin D deficiency has been associated with increased risks of conditions including type 1 and type 2 diabetes, allergies, asthma and cardiovascular disease

You can reduce the risk of your toddler developing future health complications related to vitamin D deficiency by ensuring they get sufficient amounts during toddlerhood and childhood.

Next Steps

Boost your toddler’s food intake of vitamin D with the following small meals and snacks:

  • Sardines on toast triangles
  • Tuna and sweetcorn mayonnaise on a jacket potato
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Fortified breakfast cereal as breakfast or snacks

View references

Hide references

drop down arrow

1. Infant and toddler forum. Toddler factsheet 4.7 [Online]. 2012. Available at: [Accessed May 2014]

Last reviewed: 27th August 2014

The importance of each nutrient in a healthy toddler diet

Vitamins and minerals are important to include in your baby's weaning diet. Learn which, and which foods are ideal sources for your baby's nutrition.

Learn more

Feeding your toddler to support their immune system

Your toddler’s immune system is still developing. Learn which nutrients support their health and which foods to include in their daily diet.

Learn more
Care Team

Is your toddler getting enough vitamin D?

Our expert team of midwives, nutritionists and feeding advisors are here to answer your questions. Just get in touch.
Call us on 0800 996 1000

Toddler iron intake/ensuring toddler gets enough iron header

Toddler iron intake

Iron is essential for your toddler’s growth and rapidly developing brain. Learn how much they need and how to ensure their intake each day.

Learn more

Join Aptaclub on Facebook

Like our Facebook page to join the thousands of mums-to-be and new mums who are discussing and sharing their experiences.


Aptaclub on Instagram

Follow us on Instagram for educational, inspirational posts celebrating your pregnancy and parenting journey.

WhatsApp Welcome to Careline via WhatsApp

Our experts are available to chat Monday - Friday, 8am-8pm, excluding bank holidays.

By clicking start, you will open a new chat in your WhatsApp app with our Careline team.


Having trouble?

If you're having issues sending the Careline a message via WhatsApp, please try calling us on 0800 996 1000 instead.