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Why Do Breastfed Babies Need Vitamin D Supplements?

Why Do Breastfed Babies Need Vitamin D Supplements?

Mothers who breastfeed are told that breast milk is the ultimate food for their baby and new research continues to prove what a remarkable and adaptable food it is. So, how is it possible that it is not providing enough vitamin D for our babies? Together Moms ask Ddrops Company, maker of Vitamin D products, to explain it to us.

Why do breast fed babies need vitamin D supplements?
Breastmilk is indeed the best nutrition for babies as it contains the right amounts and appropriate types of fat, carbohydrates and proteins that infants require for healthy growth and development. However, breast milk alone usually does not provide infants with an adequate intake of vitamin D.¹

Without supplementation, an infant’s vitamin D stores will be depleted . This is particularly true if the mother’s stores are low. Based on a recent study analysis that showed that between 70% and 97% of Canadians are Vitamin D deficient², it is quite likely that most mothers do not have sufficient Vitamin D stores to maintain their own body and well as their growing infant’s body’s needs of the supplement.

Babies need vitamin D for healthy growth and development. In particular, bones require vitamin D to help with the absorption of calcium. There is a growing amount of data that suggests that more vitamin D or sunshine during infancy may prevent other diseases later in life, such as juvenile diabetes or multiple sclerosis.

Vitamin D supplementation of breastfed babies is not really new. As far back as 1927, healthcare professionals recommended giving cod liver oil (a source of vitamin D) to breastfed infants.

How much does it cost to give my baby vitamin D drops?
This depends on the brand that you choose and the retailer’s price. If you are price shopping, make sure to compare the price on a per dose basis. Most traditional baby liquid vitamin D products come in a 50 mL bottle and require 1 mL (eyedropper) per dose. That is equal to 50 doses. Baby Ddrops® comes in a 2.5 mL bottle and only requires 1 single drop per dose. As such, this tiny bottle actually provides 90 doses. Baby Ddrops usually is usually priced between $15 to $19 for 90 doses and averages to about 20 cents per dose.

How would a parent recognise vitamin D overdose?
Vitamin D intoxication is extremely rare but can be caused by accidental or intentional intake of high doses of vitamin D. Very high doses of vitamin D can lead to high levels of calcium in the bloodstream. Even though high levels of calcium may not have noticeable symptoms, there are important consequences that need to be considered. For example, high levels of calcium can result in anorexia, chills, constipation, confusion, depression, fever, fatigue, increased urination, nausea, pancreatitis, thirst, vomiting and weight loss.

How long should I be giving my baby the drops?
It is best to consult your healthcare professional. Health Canada provides the following Vitamin D recommendations based on age, and as you can see, their recommendations span all ages:

¹Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Vitamin D Supplementation”, October 20 2009, http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/recommendations/vitamin_d.htm
²Public Health. 2010 Jun;124(6):350-9. doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2010.03.003. Epub 2010 Apr 21. “Addressing vitamin D deficiency in Canada: a public health innovation whose time has come”. Schwalfenberg GK, Genuis SJ, Hiltz MN.

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