Vitamin D and Your Child

When you have a newborn baby you have probably heard your pediatrician talk about Vitamin D. They have probably asked you if you are giving a Vitamin D supplement to your child. Now you might be wondering why this is necessary and how important is it really? Well that is what I wanted to share with you is the importance of Vitamin D for your growing baby.  

Vitamin D is a an essential vitamin that your need to get through sunlight exposure and your diet. The challenge for all of us, especially in the winter, is getting enough sunlight exposure. This holds true for adults and children. If you are breastfeeding your infant, your breastmilk doesn't pass along very much Vitamin D. If that is solely what your infant is getting for nutrition and it is the middle of winter, your child really needs a Vitamin D supplement.  There was an article that was released this past week that prompted me wanting to write this post - CLICK HERE for a link to that write up. 

Why is Vitamin D important? Vitamin D helps with bone development and if your child isn't getting enough in their diet, sun exposure or via a supplement they can develop rickets. This occurs when the bones are weak, they bend and children have issues walking. This can be prevented through simply making sure your child is getting a minimum of 400 IU (international units) of Vitamin D each day. If your child is taking breastmilk or formula, supplementing with Vitamin D is necessary. There is an estimated 1 IU of Vitamin D in 1 fluid ounce of breastmilk. This is surprising for a lot of parents, but most people hear that breastmilk is the perfect food for your infant. That is true for most nutrients and for all of the antibodies that are passed via breastmilk. The one area where breastmilk falls short for term infants is the amount of Vitamin D available. Fortified baby formula contains 15 IU of Vitamin D in 1 fluid ounce of formula. Again, this surprises a lot of parents, but formula is designed to be nutritionally completely, but it like breastmilk is inadequate in the amount of Vitamin D it provides. As you can see, when the recommendation daily for infant is 400 IU per day, both breastmilk and formula fall short of meeting this goal. That is why providing your infant with a supplement is needed. 

Supplements - Now that we have established that your child, whether breastfeed or formula fed needs additional Vitamin D what are you going to purchase? There are lots of different brands of Vitamin D that are available. The main thing you want to make sure is that when you purchase a supplement you are giving 400 IU per day to meet the recommendations set out by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Most supplements will provide 400 IU in about 1mL of a liquid supplement that you would squirt in your infant's mouth daily. There is a product out there that provides the 400 IU of Vitamin D in 1 drop of this liquid, which can be placed on the mother's breast. This would mean the child would ingest it when they go to breast. This product is called Baby Ddrops. There are a variety of products out there and finding what works for you and your child is important. 

The main take away from this post is to help encourage you to give your infant their daily dose (400 IU) of Vitamin D each day. It is necessary for proper bone growth and development. When possible, make sure you take your child outside and get some sun exposure as well. Being outside for 15 minutes at midday with full sunshine would provide an adult with 10,000 IU of Vitamin D. So being outside for a less than 15 minutes as a child will help to meet their daily Vitamin D goals.