Vitamin D, also known as the Sunshine vitamin is obtained from both sun exposure & dietary food and plays a vital role in bone function & growth in children. It is crucial in the regulation of calcium and the maintenance of phosphorus levels in the blood. Vitamin D deficiency is often associated with various bone problems, in babies, children, and adults.
To prevent vitamin D deficiency, your baby needs a daily dose of vitamin D, and it must begin right from the early days. Our article will help you understand the amount of vitamin D that your baby needs, how you can give it to them and when you can stop.
What is Vitamin D Deficiency & Why Babies Need Vitamin D?
Babies do not get adequate amounts of Vitamin D from breast milk alone, which is why pediatricians suggest Vitamin D supplementation right from birth. Babies fed with powdered milk may get a bit more Vitamin D as compared to breastfed infants, however, Vitamin D supplementation is suggested for them too, as the child may not consume the quantities of milk that are needed.
During pregnancy, vitamin D from the mother helps babies develop in the womb. Having the right amount of vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus is important for building and keeping strong bones. Vitamin D helps us absorb calcium. Calcium is important for the functioning of every cell in the body. Therefore Vitamin D deficiency in turn may lead to Calcium deficiency too.
If babies do not get enough vitamin D, they are at risk of getting rickets, a disease that affects bone growth and development. Rickets is the failure of mineralization of growing bone and cartilage. Vitamin D deficiency will also affect other body systems like the Immune system, muscular system, concentration, sleep, etc.
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency in Babies
Vitamin D deficiency is hard to spot in babies unless it’s extremely severe. The symptoms might also not show up for months or years later after the deficiency has started. Some symptoms that might appear if the deficit is on the higher side include bone deformation, fractures, skeletal deformities, etc. Your baby’s pediatrician might recommend checking your baby’s vitamin D levels if he/she falls sick very often, or shows signs of bone deformities or fractures. It is therefore recommended that you introduce vitamin D supplementation to your baby right after birth to eliminate the chances of deficiency. Not all doctors might agree with this opinion, but studies have shown that vitamin D supplementation is essential in children. Therefore, you could take a second opinion and pay extra attention to it if the mother suffers from a vitamin D deficiency too.
How Much Vitamin D Do Babies Need?
Vitamin D is measured in international units, and infants up to 1 year of age must get at least 400 IU of vitamin D daily (according to ICMR, Indian Council of Medical Research, recommendation). They can get this by drinking at least one liter of formula. If your baby feeds only on breast milk, likely, they do not get the required 400 IU and need supplementation. Additionally, they might not consume one liter of formula daily. So you might still need to give them supplementation. All the vitamin D that is present in infants during birth is derived from the vitamin D levels in the mother. However, the vitamin D level reduces by over 50% within the first month, and if supplementation does not begin immediately, the deficiency might start to develop. Hence, it is advisable to give vitamin D supplementation right after birth, as suggested by doctors.
Vitamin D Rich Foods For Kids and Children
Following are some of the best vitamin D rich foods that you could try for your Kids and Children.
- Soya Beans
- White Beans
- Some Fish like Sardines, Salmon, Perch, Rainbow trout
- Beef Liver
- Egg Yolks.
- Food fortified with vitamin D like some Dairy Products, Orange Juice, Soya Milk, and Cereals.
The recommended amount of vitamin D for children (1-18years) is 400IU, per ICMR 2010 guidelines.
It is very important to follow the advice of the Pediatrician and supplement Vitamin D for babies right from birth. It is also advisable to supplement children’s diet with Vitamin D, especially if they are poor eaters. Vitamin D is vital for adequate growth & development in children.
How Should You Give Vitamin D To Babies?
The only way to give babies vitamin D is through drops or sprays since they are too small for tablets and injections are not advisable every day. Generally, the dosage instructions will be given on the box. Make sure you give only the recommended dose. Instead of aiming for the back of the throat, try to give drops or sprays on the cheeks. If you give your baby formula, you can even mix the drops in their formula or put one drop at a time on your nipple while they feed.
Do Babies Get Enough Vitamin D From The Sun?
While our body gets vitamin D from the direct sunlight on the skin, it is not safe to expose babies to direct sunlight. Whenever you step out in sunlight, make sure you cover your baby with a blanket and their stroller must have shade. This means that babies may not get enough vitamin D from the sun. Additionally, if your baby has dark skin, it might be even difficult to synthesize vitamin D from the sunlight due to the higher concentration of melanin. Also, most people do not bring the baby into the sun every day, right from birth and the baby may not be exposed to sunlight at all.
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