Does My Infant Need Vitamin D Supplementation?
At every newborn visit the topic of Vitamin D supplementation comes up, usually at the end of the visit as a side note- “oh by the way, you need to give your baby a vitamin D supplement,” as the family is walking out the door. Let’s take a little time here to explore why Vitamin D is important for your baby.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that is involved in the growth of both
bones and teeth. It is also involved in the immune system.
How do we get Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is found in few foods naturally, most people get Vitamin D from fortified foods such as milk, formula, and fortified cereals. Humans make Vitamin D when their skin is exposed to sunlight; sunlight converts a chemical in the skin into the active form of Vitamin D. The amount of Vitamin D absorbed from sunlight is variable and depends on the amount of time spent in the sun, skin color, and the amount of skin exposed.
Why do babies need a Vitamin D supplement?
Breastfed infants can become deficient in Vitamin D because breastmilk, although rich in many important nutrients, is not rich in Vitamin D. Additionally, we do not recommend infants spend long periods of time in direct sunlight. As we all know babies are growing quickly, so it is essential that they have adequate amounts of Vitamin D to ensure strong bones. If your baby is taking more than 32 oz of formula or fortified milk a day they do not need a Vitamin D supplement.
What happens if my baby is deficient in Vitamin D?
In extreme cases, Vitamin D deficiency can result in Rickets– a condition that causes soft and deformed bones. In older people, low Vitamin D levels can cause an increased risk of fractures and Osteoporosis.
How do I give my baby Vitamin D?
If your baby needs a supplement ( is breastfed or takes less than 32 oz of formula or milk a day) we recommend administering a liquid vitamin D supplement. The recommended dose is 400 IU a day. There are many different brands of vitamin D supplements out there. We frequently recommend D Drops, Carlson D drops, and Tri Vi Sol. It is possible to get enough Vitamin D into the infant through breastfeeding if the breastfeeding parent takes 5000 IU of Vitamin D daily.
Take Home Points:
- Vitamin D is important for bone growth and the immune system
- Breastfed infants are at risk of developing Vitamin D deficiency
- If your infant or toddler is taking < 32 oz formula a day or < 32 oz of whole milk we recommend
a 400IU daily dose of Vitamin D.
- Please feel free to reach out to our providers if you have any further questions or concerns
about Vitamin D supplementation.