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The Importance of Vitamin D and Babies

Vitamin D is an essential vitamin for our babies! We as humans absorb UVB rays from the sun in order to produce Vitamin D naturally in our skin! Our babies are very gentle, especially in the early stages of their lives and exposure to the sun is not recommended. So, how do babies get Vitamin D and why is it really an essential vitamin to be given so early on? Below we will go through my ultimate guide on Vitamin D and babies!

 

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is actually a hormone that is produced naturally in our bodies when we are exposed to the UVB rays of the sun. However, exposure to the sun has been controversial over the years. This has led to covering our skin with clothing, sunscreen, shade, etc. But the less exposure we have to the sun the less Vitamin D we produce. Therefore, supplementing with Vitamin D can be very helpful!

 

Should you give your child a Vitamin D supplement?

A Vitamin D supplement can be very beneficial to our babies especially under the age of 6 months when they should not be exposed to the sun. A deficiency in Vitamin D has been known throughout history to cause Rickets, which is a weakening or softening of our bones. This is due to the role Vitamin D has in the absorption of calcium.

 

As your child ages, you may feel like they are exposed to enough sun. However, there are some other factors to consider. For example, our latitude, cloudy days, their complexion, time of day, smog and the season. Those with darker skin tones have a harder time in producing Vitamin D than those with lighter skin tones.

 

Even if a mother takes a supplement and eats Vitamin D rich foods and breastfeeds, their child will still not get enough Vitamin D. Therefore, it is important to give your child some sort of Vitamin D supplement to ensure they are getting their recommended daily requirement.

 

How do I know if my child has a deficiency in Vitamin D?

• The child is breastfed
• The child is not exposed to sunlight
• The child lives in the northern hemisphere (includes Canada – since fewer UVB rays can reach us here!)

 

At what age, should your baby start taking Vitamin D?

You can start as early as a few days after they are born. If you are breastfeeding, your child needs to supplement since there is not enough Vitamin D in breastmilk. If you are giving your child less than 32 ounces of Vitamin D fortified formula daily, you can also supplement with Vitamin D. Please consult your doctor before giving your child any supplement.

 

What are the benefits of Vitamin D?

The biggest benefit of Vitamin D for our children is the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin D is also beneficial in supporting our immune system!Therefore, it is important our children get enough Vitamin D as their immune system is constantly developing.

 

How do you know what supplement is best?

Ensure you obtain a Vitamin D3 supplement and NOT Vitamin D2. Vitamin D3 is the active form. Since Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, make sure your child takes their supplement around the time of feeding. This will ensure it is absorbed properly.

 

Are there food sources of Vitamin D?

Some foods are fortified with Vitamin D such as cereal and milk. There are also some foods that naturally contain Vitamin D such as salmon, tuna, and liver.

 

As you can see, Vitamin D is one of the most important supplements we can give to our children. So, if you are thinking about providing your child with any supplements, Vitamin D can be the best place to start! As always, speak to your healthcare provider before giving your child any supplements.


Johnson, Lana R. “Vitamin D Insufficiency Due To Insufficient Exposure To Sunlight And Related Pathology”. Inquiries Journal. N.p., 2017. Web. 2 Feb. 2017.

“Vitamin D Supplementation | Breastfeeding | CDC”. Cdc.gov. N.p., 2017. Web. 2 Feb. 2017.


About the author:

Dr. Samina Mitha, ND
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