Receiving the necessary doses of vitamins is essential for the baby’s growth. Vitamin D is one of the most important, the WHO tells us it plays a fundamental role in the correct functioning of the baby’s immune and bone systems. Now, how much should you take? What is the proper way to administer it? Here’s all you need to know about vitamin D.
What is vitamin D?
It is a liposoluble vitamin which is obtained mainly through a transformation process that our body carries out naturally when it receives the sun’s rays on the skin. It can also be achieved through food intake, but one of its peculiarities is that there are few food sources rich in this substance. Among them are fish livers, bluefish, some dairy products, and egg yolks.
Why do babies need vitamin D?
According to the World Health Organization, vitamin D plays a crucial role in balancing blood calcium levels and bone density, as well as in the proper development of the immune system. The importance of vitamin D in babies lies in the fact that it is a very peculiar nutrient. As we have said before, its main source is not food, as in the case of other vitamins, but an endogenous synthesis process originated by sunlight. Thus, exposure to sunlight provides up to 90% of vitamin D that people need.
The problem is babies are born with low vitamin D reserves, depending on breastfeeding, sunlight, and supplements to provide this nutrient in their first months. In turn, breast milk has its only Achilles heel in vitamin D and excessive exposure to solar radiation in the first months of life is something against which such authoritative voices as the Spanish Association of Pediatrics (AEP) or the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warn.
It is important to note that a deficit of vitamin D in an infant’s body can lead to rickets – a disease that manifests itself through deformation of the bones and reduced growth of the infant -, seizures, and dyspnea – breathing difficulties.
How can you give vitamin D to a baby?
Therefore, vitamin D supplementation can be an option to alleviate the lack of this nutrient, always consulting and following the recommendations of the pediatrician. Liquid vitamin D can be taken in the form of drops given directly to the baby or can be given as a supplement that can be diluted in milk. It is recommended in an amount of 400 IU (International Units) per day, which corresponds to a variable number of drops depending on the suspension of the supplement recommended by the pediatricians.
It is also important to note that the PSA sets the limit at 1000 IU per day without any specific medical indication. According to the reference organization among Spanish pediatricians, exposure to an excessive dose of vitamin D over a prolonged period may cause some pathological alterations.
Do babies who take formula need vitamin D supplements?
Breastfeeding is the best food for the baby, but when breastfeeding is not possible, the formula is a suitable alternative. If your baby is fed formula, he or she will not always need it. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that formula-fed babies should also be supplemented at least until their intake of the vitamin D-enriched formula reaches 1 liter per day.
But, remember, it should be the opinion of the medical professional alone that governs decisions about feeding your baby. There are many different circumstances and it is up to the pediatricians to take all of them into account and draw up an individualized plan for each case.