A lot is being talked about Vitamin D nowadays, right from its need for babies to grandparents - everybody seems to have discovered the health benefits of Vitamin D And why not? Recent studies have shown about 77% of infants are vitamin D deficient. This is why Vitamin D for babies is extremely important. Vitamin D deficiency is observed in infants who are on an exclusive breast milk diet. Usually, babies are kept completely wrapped up and are not exposed enough to the sunlight, which in turn results in a deficiency of Vitamin D. When the mother is vitamin D deficient, then same deficiency passes onto the child.
During the first 6 to 8 weeks of birth – the vitamin D level of your baby is determined by the vitamin D levels at birth, which in turn depend on the vitamin D reserves of the mother. Also, the vitamin D found in breast milk is low and inadequate for the growing infant, and hence babies who are exclusively on breast milk usually suffer from Vitamin D deficiency.
Also read: How Do Low Levels Of Vitamin D Affect Pregnancy?
This is why doctors now prescribe multivitamin drops for breastfed babies. Government regulations mandate that formula powders be enriched with Vitamin D, which is why formula fed don't face the same problem.
How can breastfed babies get an adequate amount of Vitamin D?
If you follow traditional practices, you can’t go wrong!! In India, there is the age-old practice of massaging babies with oil and giving them a sunbath - by placing them semi-naked in the sun for half an hour or so.
Our body has the natural ability to synthesize Vitamin D. When babies are placed in the sun it serves a dual purpose. One is of course, that Vitamin D gets naturally made in their body -and the second is that sunlight also has disinfecting properties, which is good for baby’s private parts.
Vitamin D for babies - Why is it necessary?
- The main role of vitamin D in infants lies in helping good calcium absorption in the body and promoting bone development and growth in children.
- Vitamin D deficiency leads to Rickets and lack of muscle tone.
- When the calcium absorption in an infant’s body is low, he may also suffer from hypocalcemia and seizures.
- In younger children, the lack of calcium from the diet is one of the common causes of Vitamin D deficiency leading to bowed legs, knock-knees and rickets.
Also read: 12 Necessary Vitamins That A Breastfeeding Mother Should Not Avoid!
Signs of low Vitamin D
Vitamin D for babies is extremely important as a lack of it can lead to the following symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency:
- Excessive head sweating
- Delayed milestones
- Lack of tone of muscles
- Fontanelles haven’t closed
- Doesn’t feel any pain on being pinched
- A large head and a pot belly
Also read: A,B,C Of Vitamins For Kids
Vitamin D for babies - How much does your baby need?
- The requirement of Vitamin D in infants up to 1 year is 400 IU /DAY, and 600 IU/day in children more than a year old.
- The U.S Endocrine Committee recommends intake of 400- 1000 IU/day under 1 year of age and 600- 1000 IU/day from 1 to 18 years of age.
- The requirement of the same is more, especially in children who are taking other medications like anticonvulsants (medicines to control seizures), antifungal medicines or medication for AIDS.
Ways to increase your child’s Vitamin D intake
- The most common source of Vitamin D is sunlight. It is the best way to ensure that your child gets both fresh air as well as Vitamin D. Early morning sun is best.
- There are some foods which can also help to increase the Vitamin D in your child’s body. Foods like Salmon, cod liver oil and organ meats and fortified foods like milk and cheese, are rich sources of Vitamin D.
- There are many supplements available. Vitamin D3 – as oral drops 400 IU/ml; Syrup 400 IU/5 ml; and Tablets as 1000 and 2000 IU in blister packing and also as sachets, in powder form with each sachet containing 60000 IU of Vitamin D3. You can check with your child’s doctor which dosage to go for.
- Apart from the regular vitamin D3 drops, injections and sachets are also available. Use only if prescribed by your doctor.
- Homeopathy also has a few medicines which help in reducing this deficiency. Medicines like Silicea, Calcarea carb, Calcarea Phos are few common medicines that many homoeopathy doctors suggest.
Also read: 7 Essential Micro-Nutrients For Your Child’s Overall Health
So dear mommies, if you see any of the mentioned symptoms in your child, be sure to get him/her checked by a doctor. Don’t self medicate as your baby needs a very small amount of medicine and you can inadvertently end up giving more.
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