Vitamin D is an important vitamin for people of all ages. It aids the body in calcium absorption, bone growth and remodeling, reducing inflammation, and helping immune function. You get Vitamin D through certain foods and also through a process in your body that is triggered by sunlight. Recent research has shown that many adults and children do not have enough Vitamin D, which is known as Vitamin D deficiency. Many diseases such as rickets (a bone disorder), cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers have been linked to Vitamin D deficiency.
Getting sufficient amounts of Vitamin D is especially challenging for breast fed infants. Formulas contain sufficient amounts of Vitamin D, but very little Vitamin D is transferred into breast milk. This, in combination with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendation that infants avoid direct sunlight and wear protective clothing, makes it extremely difficult for infants to get adequate amounts of the vitamin.
Because of this challenge, the AAP now recommends that all partially or exclusively breast fed infants be given a Vitamin D supplement of 400 IU per day. Vitamin D supplements come as over-the-counter drops for infants which can be found at most drug stores. Most pediatricians recommend starting infants on this supplement once breast feeding is fully established, around 2 weeks of age. Talk to your pediatrician for more information about the importance of Vitamin D supplements for your baby.
Yours in health,
Nicole Baumann-Blackmore, MD
Meriter Medical Group