Top five reason why doctors recommend vitamin D for infants and children
Top five reasons why doctors recommend vitamin D for infants and children:
1. To supplement exclusively or partially breastfed infants
Breastmilk is the best nutrition that a mother can offer to her children. Due to a movement by healthcare organizations around the world to promote breastfeeding, more and more babies are being breastfed and for a longer period of time.[1,2]
Breastmilk is rich in nutrients. As more information has become available, studies now confirm that most mothers’ breastmilk does not contain enough vitamin D to meet their baby’s needs.[3,4,5] It is possible to increase a mother’s vitamin D level to reach sufficient amounts for her baby, this requires a high level of vitamin D which should be discussed with a physician beforehand. Another option is to give a daily dose of vitamin D to baby by following the recommendations of medical organizations.
2. To help prevent rickets
Vitamin D has been proven to help prevent bone softening and malformations. Rickets is a disease that used to be more commonplace decades ago. It almost disappeared for an extended period of time. However, in recent years, doctors have seen a spike in rickets cases in both cold and warm regions.
3. To supplement the lack of vitamin D found naturally in foods
It is difficult to obtain vitamin D from foods. Certain foods are fortified with vitamin D, but it is difficult to eat enough of these foods in your own diet to pass enough vitamin D onto your baby through breastmilk. It is also likely your baby is not eating some of these foods yet, or she may just not be eating enough of these foods to obtain a sufficient amount of vitamin D.
4. To help the development and maintenance of strong bones and teeth
Calcium and phosphorus are required to help develop and maintain strong bones and teeth. Vitamin D is the agent that allows calcium and phosphorus to enter the bloodstream, so without vitamin D, ones’ calcium and phosphorus levels would drop. Considering childhood is a stage of rapid bone growth and development, this is the time when you want to ensure an optimal level of vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus.
5. To make up for the strict sun protection that is required for children, especially infants
Since a baby’s skin is more sensitive to the sun, as well as the more serious effects of too much sun exposure in children compared to adults, various medical organizations in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom recommend that infants under the age of six months up to 1 year old should remain out of direct sunlight. Moreover, it is recommended that infants wear sunscreen at all times when they are outside. [7,8,9,10,11,12]
Watch this video to learn more!
Originally published on June 12, 2016
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Breastfeeding Report Card, 2014. https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/data/reportcard.htm
2. Statistics Canada. Health at a Glance: Breastfeeding trends in Canada. November 27 2015. https://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-624-x/2013001/article/11879-eng.htm
3. HolickMF, Resurrection of vitamin D deficiency and rickets. J Clin Invest.2006;116:2062–72.
4. ThacherTD, Fischer PR, Strand MA, and Pettifor . Nutritional rickets around the world: causes and future directions. Ann Trop Paediatr. 2006;26:1–16.
5. Weisberg P, Scanlon KS, Li R, Cogswell ME. .Nutritional rickets among children in the United States: review of cases reported between 1986 and 2003. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004; 80(6, Suppl)1697S–705S.
6. Pettifor JM. Nutritional rickets: pathogenesis and prevention. Pediatr Endocrinol Rev.2013 Jun;10 Suppl 2:347-53.
7. American Cancer Society. Skin Cancer Prevention and Early Detection. 03/20/2015. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/sunanduvexposure/skincancerpreventionandearlydetection/skin-cancer-prevention-and-early-detection-u-v-protection
8. Skin Cancer Foundation. Jennifer Linder, MD. Sun Protection for Infants; Baby Skin Requires Extra Diligence. June 7 2013. https://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/children/infants
9. American Academy of Dermatology. Sunscreen FAQs. https://www.aad.org/media/stats/prevention-and-care/sunscreen-faqs
10. Government of Canada. Healthy Canadians. Sun safety tips for parents. 2015-06-30. https://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/healthy-living-vie-saine/environment-environnement/sun-soleil/tips-parent-conseils-eng.php
11. Canadian Dermatology Association. Sun Safety: Protecting Your Family.
12. Sun safety for children. 13/01/2016. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/safety-in-the-sun.aspx