Many parents are buying Vitamin D drops for infants. But is this a good idea? Is it healthy, unnecessary or just a waste of money?
Let’s take a look at the function of Vitamin D, and whether or not your infant may need Vitamin D drops as supplementation.
90% Of BreastFed Infants Are Vitamin D Deficient!
Excellent nutrition starts at a very young age. As we all know, a newborn’s grow at an almost exponential rate and have weak immune systems. Getting the right nutrition is extremely important for them to fight infections and have the necessary energy to stay healthy.
Quite often, young infants can get all the vitamins and nutrients they need through breast milk alone. You might be surprised as me to know the scientific facts. Only an estimated 1 in 5 infants get the recommended 400 IU / d from any source. This number drops to just 1 in 10 for breastfed mothers!
To make matters worse, the US has a pretty low recommended Vitamin D level. France and Finland set the bar at 1,000 IU / D – 2.5 times the U.S level. Our northern neighbour Canada has the same levels for the summer, but in the winter they recommend 800 IU / d.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D Deficiency can lead to rickets and osteoporosis, amongst other conditions involving weak and brittle bones and joints. Ricketts affects infects from 3 months – 18 months of age, and you can read more about its frightening effects on infants here.
Being overweight can also result in inefficient Vitamin D absorption; excess body fat swallows it up!
The Function of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is an incredibly important vitamin. Like Vitamins A, D, E, and K, it’s fat soluble. This means that it’s better absorbed with fatty foods.
Vitamin D is responsible for important bodily functions. It’s responsible for the successful absorption of calcium and phosphate, both of which occur in the intestines of humans. It acts as the catalyst for successful calcium incorporation into parts of our body, such as bones and teeth.
In addition to its role in calcium and phosphate integration, Vitamin D is also responsible for immune system health, muscular strength, and blood sugar levels.
Sources of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is unique in that our body naturally produces it when our skin is exposed to sunlight. It’s imperative, because of this, to get at least 20 minutes of sun exposure twice a week. That’s all you’ll need to generate sufficient Vitamin D to stay healthy.
Vitamin D isn’t present in many plant foods but is present to some degree in fish, eggs, and dairy products. Mushrooms and tofu are the strongest plant-based sources of Vitamin D.
This may be great news for Mom, but not that helpful for our poor little angels still waiting to get onto solids!
When are Vitamin D Drops Good For Your Infant?
Vitamin D absorption is, as with any other nutrient, of extreme importance to your child at a young age. While certain measures can be taken to prevent the need for vitamin D supplements, there are special cases when your infant may need to take supplements.
1) Your Infant Isn’t Exposed to Enough Sunlight
While it’s true that humans don’t need excessive amounts of sun exposure for adequate Vitamin D production, sometimes we don’t get the necessary light. This can hold true with infants, especially if the parents of the child are busy and don’t often take him/her out of the house.
In this situation, it might be necessary to do one of two things: either expose your child to the recommended amount of weekly sunlight for adequate Vitamin D generation or give your child Vitamin D drops as supplements!
2) Your Infant Has A Darker Pigment
One key thing to understand, with respect to the ability of our skin to successfully absorb Vitamin D, is that the darker your pigment the more sunlight you require to generate adequate Vitamin D.
If your infant has a skin tone that exceptionally dark, it’s important to expose him/her to adequate levels of sunlight. If you don’t think that this is possible, it’s probably time to turn your head in the direction of supplementation by Vitamin D drops!
3) Mom Has Inadequate Vitamin D Intake
There are two underlying problems with this, both of which might prompt you to take your infant out into the sun or give him/her Vitamin D drops.
First, human breast milk isn’t an efficient source of Vitamin D; it contains roughly 15% of what the recommended dietary allowance or RDA is.
Secondly, if the mother of an infant isn’t getting her Vitamin D, the infants Vitamin D stores will be low from conception. This means that the infant will need more Vitamin D at a young age.
As a mother, if you’re in this scenario, you’ll want to make sure that your infant gets enough Vitamin D by either sunlight or supplementation.
Is Too Much Harmful?
Potentially, too much Vitamin D can cause nausea, stomach pain, fatigue and other related symptoms. Over a prolonged period, it can even cause kidney failure.
Sadly, problems tend to occur when parents purchase or administer the wrong dose of Vitamin D. You need to read the directions careful and distinguish between “Drop” and “Dropperful”.
To be safe, it’s better to buy your own supply for your infant like “D Drops” or “Sun Drops” (which have no additives). And as always, check with your infant’s primary care physician if there’s ever any doubt.
Vitamin D supplementation, in any case, can cure deficiencies in the human body. Infants who don’t get adequate sunlight, have darker skin tones, and who have nutrient-deficient mothers are all at risk of Vitamin D deficiencies.
In most of the above cases, sunlight is the ultimate cure. If sunlight isn’t available or you worry about the harmful effects of UV, Vitamin D supplements are more than effective.