How Can I Make Sure My Child Is Getting Enough Vitamin D
Your childs age matters when it comes to cows milk. For children older than 12 months, plain whole cows milk is a great source of vitamin D.
Most cows milk sold in stores is fortified with vitamin D. For babies younger than 12 months, cows milk is not recommended because it may put your baby at risk for intestinal bleeding. It also has too many proteins and minerals for your babys kidneys to handle easily and does not have the right amount of nutrients your baby needs.
For babies who are fed onlybreast milk or who receive both breast milk and infant formula:
- Breast milk usually does not provide all the vitamin D a baby needs, so breastfed babies will need a supplement of 400 IU of vitamin D per day beginning shortly after birth.
For babies who are receiving onlyinfant formula:
- Vitamin D supplementation is not needed.
- Infant formulas are fortified with vitamin D.
Watch Out For Too Much Vitamin D
Whether using natural supplements or over the counter supplements, make sure you follow the recommendation of no more than 400 IU/day for babies. They dont need any more than that. In fact, giving them more than that can be highly dangerous for them.
Adults will need more, especially if youre breastfeeding. Most doctors recommended 2000 IU/day for breastfeeding mothers.
If you or your baby is struggling, your doctor may recommend extra. If that is the case, listen to the instructions that your doctor gives you to make sure you avoid getting too much of the nutrient.
Vitamin D is essential. The best way to get it is from the sun, but this isnt always going to be possible. The above just gives you some of the best extra options to make sure your baby is fully supported in the earlier years.
Do I Need A Vitamin D Supplement
In order to determine if a person has adequate levels of vitamin D or not, we would need to measure their blood circulating level of 25D.
Most experts agree that a 25-hydroxyvitamin D level below 20 ng/ml is considered to be a deficiency whereas a level between 21-29 ng/ml is considered to be insufficient .
If you find yourself below the recommended levels you will likely need a vitamin D supplement and your doctor will be able to assist you in finding the most appropriate dosing in order to meet the requirements.
Many people do not need a supplement if they are spending time in the sun on a daily basis but supplementation will often be required during the colder and darker months of the years or for individuals who may be at an increased risk of deficiency.
These may include:
- dark skin
Common symptoms of too low vitamin D may include lack of energy, low mood, frequent infections, hair loss, chronic muscle pain, slow wound healing, poor bone health conditions such as rickets or risk of osteoporosis.
If you think you might be at risk of vitamin D deficiency we suggest consulting with your doctor to verify your level of vitamin D and assess if a daily vitamin would benefit you.
Vitamin D by itself may become problematic when taking higher doses .
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Add The Supplement To The Milk Or Food
If your baby is formula fed and doesnt get the extra vitamin D, you will need to get a supplement that can be added to the milk or food. Another option is to have one that can mix in with water for a baby to take between meals.
These supplements will usually still come with a dropper in liquid form. The benefit is that the baby doesnt get the taste of the supplement straight on their lipsnot all of them taste great. The supplement is also less likely to be spat out later on or drooled accidentally, meaning the baby doesnt take the supplement in.
Are Herbal Teas Suggested For Infants
At this time, there is insufficient evidence on efficacy and safety of herbal teas to warrant their use during infancy. Some parents and caregivers may use herbal teas to help with infant conditions such as colic . However, the use of these products is not without risk, as they may have pharmacologic actions. They frequently contain sugar and alcohol, and may interfere with breastfeeding. The composition of herbal teas varies considerably among products.
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Can Vegans Take A Vitamin D Supplement
Vegans can be more susceptible to a vitamin D deficiency. The double whammy of not getting enough sunlight during the winter months and not being able to eat most of the food sources of vitamin D can make it a little more difficult.
However, even with meat, dairy and eggs off the menu, there are still natural vegan sources of vitamin D like mushrooms for vitamin D2 and lichen for vitamin D3.
As these are limited, a vitamin D supplement is recommended. Especially for vitamin D3 as we dont think many vegans will be chowing down on some lichen!
How Much Vitamin D Do Babies Need
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a daily intake of 400 IU for babies. Most infant vitamin D supplements contain this amount in one dose. But the dose could be different, depending on which brand of drops you buy.
Some supplements have 400 IU in one drop, but others have 400 IU in a dropperful, says Dr. Liermann. Whatever supplement you choose, be sure it says its for infants. Follow the dosing instructions carefully. If you dont know which kind to use, ask your childs pediatrician.
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How Long Do Babies Need Vitamin D Drops
Vitamin D drops are mandatory until the age of 12 months unless the infants are having 32oz of formula per day.
Exclusively breastfed babies surely need supplementation. Once your baby is older than 12 months, they can have vitamin D fortified cow milk, or you may even consider giving vitamin D-fortified formula in case your baby did not have it yet.
If the baby is getting their RDA from vitamin D-fortified food, then you can skip the drops.
You are quite likely to have some other questions about vitamin D for babies, and we address them in the section below.
If I Am Breastfeeding And I Eat Foods Rich In Vitamin D Do I Still Need To Give My Baby A Supplement
Yes. Although some foods are good sources of vitamin D, they wont provide enough vitamin D to enrich your breast milk to the level your baby needs.
If you are breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about whether a supplement of up to 2000 IU/day is right for you. If it is, this will help your baby maintain a healthy vitamin D level.
Health Benefits Of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential to your newborns health. Babies who dont get enough vitamin D can develop Rickets. Rickets is a disease that softens your bones. Young children who dont have enough vitamin D can end up with bowed legs as they grow, delays in crawling and walking, and soft skulls. In recent years, rickets has become more and more of a problem in young children. Doctors are trying to combat this by recommending vitamin D drops.
How Much Does Vitamin D For Babies And Children Cost
The cost can be greater for baby and children formulations than adult ones, especially for gummies, which can cost around 24p per day .
However, if you know your kids will take them rather than spit them out or even refuse to take a supplement at all, they could be worth the extra cost.
In general the price of vitamin D supplements for adults ranges from 3p to 30p per dose, the cheapest being own-brand vitamin D tablets from supermarkets and pharmacies .
Sprays for children are around the same as adult ones as are drops .
Older children can use tablets, bringing the cost in line with that for adults, but always check the packaging before giving them to your child.
Look for offers, such as three-for-two, to help bring the overall price down.
In some instances, you wont have to pay for a supplement. Alison Morton, acting executive director of the Institute of Health Visiting, says: Women and children who qualify for the Healthy Start scheme can get free supplements containing vitamin D.
See the Healthy Start website for more information.
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Where Does Vitamin D Come From
Our bodies make vitamin D when our skin is exposed to the sun. It’s hard to get enough vitamin D from the sun, though. Most kids and adults spend lots of time indoors at school and work. When outdoors, it’s important to protect skin to prevent skin cancer and skin damage from too much sun exposure.
Very few foods have vitamin D naturally. The foods with the most are fatty fish , liver, eggs and fish oils. Kids don’t eat these foods a lot. That’s why food companies add vitamin D to milk, yogurt, baby formula, juice, cereal, and other foods.
Adding vitamin D to foods is called “fortifying.” It’s helpful, but it still may not be enough.
To get enough vitamin D, children often need to take a multivitamin with vitamin D or a vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D is sometimes labeled as vitamin D3.
You can buy vitamin D pills, gummies, chewables, liquids, and sprays in stores without a prescription. Ask your child’s health care provider for advice on choosing the right one.
Vitamin D Requirements During The First Year Of Life
Prematurity carries a high risk of vitamin D deficiency through low fetal stores and consumption of low volumes of milk, even milk in which vitamin D content per volume is considered adequate. A double blind study by Backström et al suggested that 200 IU/kg/day of vitamin D is sufficient to maintain vitamin D status and normal bone density in premature infants.
Breast milk advocates suggest that breast milk is a complete food and that breastfed infants do not need extra vitamin D . This is only true if the mother has an adequate vitamin D status. However, maternal vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy and breastfeeding – is common and contributes to the low vitamin D content of breast milk. Without further supplementation, both preterm and full-term breastfed infants may be at risk for vitamin D deficiency. This risk may be minimized either by supplementing mothers with large amounts of vitamin D during pregnancy and lactation so that breast milk contains enough vitamin D for infant needs, or by supplementing the infant directly during the period of lactation. Hollis and Wagner suggest that supplementation of the mother with up to 4000 IU/day of vitamin D is effective in assuring adequate vitamin D in breast milk for newborns
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What Should Parents Look For When Buying A Vitamin D Supplement
A single vitamin D3 supplement in a liquid format is recommended for infants. Other vitamin D products such as vitamin D2 or a multivitamin are not suggested.
Vitamin D supplements are sold over-the-counter in pharmacies and some grocery stores. Some families may qualify for subsidized supplements. For example, First Nations or Inuit people may be eligible to receive vitamin supplements through the Non-Insured Health Benefits Program.
Whats The Difference Between Vitamin D And Vitamin D3
There are two possible forms of vitamin D in the human body: vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. Both D2 and D3 are simply called âvitamin D,â so thereâs no meaningful difference between vitamin D3 and just vitamin D.
That being said, it can be worth understanding how vitamin D2 and D3 specifically are different from each otherâso hereâs a quick rundown:
- Vitamin D3 is the form of vitamin D the human body makes when sunlight strikes the skin. The body canât manufacture vitamin D2.
- Vitamin D3 is found in animal sources of foods, like fatty fish and fish oil, liver, organ meats, and egg yolks.
- Vitamin D2 primarily comes from plant sources , and forms when certain kinds of plants are exposed to ultraviolet light from the sun.
- Vitamin D2 is also less expensive to produce, so it is the form most commonly used to fortify foods, like milk, cereal products, and orange juice.
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What Happens When You Take Your Daily Vitamin D3
When you take a Vitamin D supplement, the vitamin passes from your bloodstream into your liver.
From here, it goes to the kidneys where it turns into calcitriol.
It is then released back into your bloodstream and can now enter your bodys cells where it attaches to Vitamin D receptors.
At this point, it can get to work regulating the minerals calcium and phosphorous. Clever stuff!
What Foods Have Vitamin D
Though you can obtain vitamin D from certain foods such as wild fatty fish, dairy milk and cheese products, egg yolks, beef liver, and mushrooms, the best way to maintain a sufficient vitamin D status is from sunlight exposure or supplementation .
The richest food sources of vitamin D will be found in fatty fish such as halibut, salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, and trout. Many foods may also be fortified in vitamin D such as almond milk, soy milk, orange juice, milk, yogurt and cereals.
It is not always possible to meet the daily requirements through food alone.
Vitamin D Supplements: What Parents Should Know
Getting enough vitamin D is essential so kids bones can grow strong and their immune systems can ward off illness.
Vitamin D gets into the body through absorption of sunlight and ingestion of food. From April through the end of October, spending just 15 to 30 minutes outside in the middle of the day with hands and face exposed will stimulate the skin to make all the vitamin D your child needs. In fact, on a sunny summer day, a child wearing a bathing suit can generate 10,000 to 20,000 international units of vitamin D after 15 to 30 minutes. In a neat biological trick, a persons body cant overdose on vitamin D created by the sun.
Foods such as salmon, sardines, tuna, cod liver oil, egg yolks and shiitake mushrooms contain a lot of vitamin D. Many kids dont seem to love these vitamin D superfoods, so luckily store-bought milk is often fortified with vitamin D, as are many cereals and even orange juice. Not all dairy products are fortified with vitamin D, however, so make sure to read the labels.
Vitamin D Requirements In Older Infants
There are also few studies related to vitamin status in toddlers and older infants. Because, at these ages, sun exposure probably contributes to vitamin D, the necessity for further supplementation depends on skin pigmentation, time of year, latitude and the use of sunscreen, all factors that would influence sun exposure. Among the studies, MRC Human Nutrition Research found a high degree of seasonality in 25D levels among toddlers 1.5 years to 4.5 years of age in the United Kingdom . Mallet et al found that 6% of four- to six-year-old children in Rouen , France , had vitamin D insufficiency. Among toddlers, 25D concentrations declined between 16 months and six years of age and were related to stopping vitamin D supplementation .
The Institute of Medicine recommends 200 IU/day of vitamin D for children one to eight years of age . However, in a study of children two to eight years of age, Roth et al found that few of the children with intakes of 1.3 µg/kg/day reached adequate levels of 25D of greater than 75 nmol/L. Data suggested that doses of up to 2.5 µg/kg/day of total vitamin D intake may be optimal. Further studies are needed to see whether the increase in vitamin D requirement with weight is linear or whether a better denominator would be either BMI or body surface area.
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Is More Vitamin D Better
When you start increasing your vitamin D dosage this can potentially cause problems. More is not necessarily better and not always needed. Again, this is why we recommend testing your own vitamin D level in order to properly assess the adequate intake for you.
As vitamin D is a fat-soluble dietary vitamin it can be stored for longer in the body and high levels can potentially lead to vitamin D toxicity and adverse effects.
What are the vitamin D guidelines? Daily intake is recommended at 600 IU of vitamin D per day and shouldn’t exceed the upper intake level of 4,000 IU for most healthy individuals unless recommended and monitored by your doctor as sometimes higher levels will be needed to correct a vitamin D deficiency. In order to reach toxic levels, this will typically require a much higher daily dose of vitamin D.
Toxicity of vitamin D may be associated with symptoms and conditions such as hypercalcemia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, excessive thirst, high blood pressure, kidney failure, or hearing loss.
Though too little vitamin D can pose a problem too much can also result in adverse health effects. More is not always better!
Take A Peek Into Your Childs Genetics
Encoded in every childs DNA is a whole world of possibilitieseverything from his eye color to the shape of his earlobes. Did you know that our genetics can also play a part in the nutrients our bodies need to be their best?
Some genes can affect whether an individual will need more or less of certain vitaminslike vitamin D to ensure healthy growth and development. Taking a look into that secret code written in your childs genes can clue you into if your child will need extra care in the vitamin D department.
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