As many as 40% of young children in the UK do not get enough vitamin D a recent report shows.

All under-fives may be offered free vitamins on the NHS in an effort to curb the rising tide of illness, such as rickets, linked to them getting too little vitamin D.

And rickets isn't the only one to watchout for. Diseases from the ‘40s are on the rise due to poor diets. Cases of scurvy and rickets are mainly because of a reliance on takeaways and microwave meals, according to the British Medical Association (BMA).

Following the annual report into children's health, Dame Sally Davies, the government's chief medical officer, wants the Government to extend the offer from low-income families to all children under the age of five.

She has asked the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to investigate whether giving all children in that age group vitamins A, C and D, in the form of drops or tablets, would be cost effective.

Davies said the return of rickets, and the implication of vitamin D in other ill-health, meant that offering every family with under-fives free vitamins was necessary.

What is rickets?

Rickets is caused by a lack of calcium and vitamin D from foods like oily fish and eggs, making bones soft and malformed. 

Vitamin D can also be gained from exposure to sunshine and due to the rise in skin cancer awareness, children are now being smothered in creams with high factors, that they are not benefitting from their time outside.

What is scurvy?

Scurvy is caused by a lack of vitamin C, which is vital to make collagen. If this protein is not replaced, tissue breaks down, leading to muscle and joint pain. Anemia, exhaustion and bleeding gums are all symptoms of the diease.

While you can give children supplements containing these vital minerals and vitamins, it’s vital that they have a good balanced diet, containing carbohydrates, fruit, vegetables and protein. For more information on healthy eating choices, visit NHS Choices.