The “Sunshine Vitamin” is Very Important for Babies
For several years the Canadian Pediatric Society (CPS) and Health Canada have been recommended that all breastfed infants receive 400 IU (international units) of Vitamin D supplement per day. Lack of vitamin D, a vitamin that is usually gained from exposure to the sun, can lead to rickets, a disease leading to poor bone growth and development. There is also evidence that increased exposure to vitamin D during key points of fetal and infant development may offer protection against asthma, osteoporosis, dental cavities, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
Vitamin D is present only in low amounts in breastmilk, regardless if the mother is taking Vitamin D herself. Therefore, some breastfeeding advocates argue that since breastmilk is a baby’s natural food it contains all the nutrients a baby needs. However, it is known that those living in the northern hemisphere tend to be low in Vitamin D, especially during the winter months. This is especially true for babies born during winter and early spring, when the mother may be low in Vitamin D and the developing baby does not receive enough of the nutrient in utero.
Now the CPS is suggesting that pregnant women talk to their caregivers about taking a supplement of 2000 IU/day. The Canadian Cancer Society also suggests a daily supplement (1000 IU per day) for adults under 50 from October to March when our Canadian sun is reduced. Vitamin D is believed to reduce the risk of cancer and Multiple Sclerosis.
Vitamin D status in adults is a simple blood test that is available through your MD.
Vitamin D supplements for infants are readily available at pharmacies and healthfood stores. Look for a supplement in drop-form that is free of artificial colours, flavours or added sweeteners. It is easily given to your baby by placing a drop on your nipple before breastfeeding or on your finger and letting your baby suck it off.