Vitamin D pills advised for under-fives to avoid rickets
London: All children aged between six months and five years should be given vitamin D supplements to prevent rickets, especially during winter.
Such children are at risk of developing the condition because of their couch potato lifestyles, said Sally Davies, director general of research and development in the UK.
Rickets causes the bones to become soft and weak. In extreme cases it can lead to fractures and deformities such as bowed legs and curvature of the spine.
Her advice comes after figures revealed a dramatic increase in the crippling disease in children who aren`t exposed to sunlight for long enough, because they stay indoors playing computer games or watching TV, the Daily Mail reported.
Davies said children should take seven micrograms of the sunshine vitamin every day.
A spokesperson said: "Vitamin D supplements are not recommended for the general population as most people get enough of the vitamin from their diet and from sunlight."
Nicholas Clarke, an orthopaedic surgeon, said: "Vitamin D is not easy to get but it is available in tablet form."
Humans receive 80 percent of vitamin D from a chemical process that happens when sunlight is absorbed by the skin. It is also found naturally in oily fish, egg yolk and liver.
Rickets was common 100 years ago during the Industrial Revolution when diets were poor and many cities were surrounded by thick smog, which limited sunlight.