Every one of us - infants to adults - use vitamin D for healthy bone development, good muscle function, immune system support and added prevention against some diseases and infections.
But how do you make sure you and your child are getting enough vitamin D?
For older children and adults, you get vitamin D a few ways:
● You can eat it. (Egg yolks, fortified milk, fortified cereals, and fatty fish)
● You absorb UV-B light (from the sun) and your body makes it. But you can’t really count on that - because of the limited time spent in the sun, especially living at this latitude in northern New England and the necessity of sunscreen - which blocks UV-B light.
● You can take a Vitamin D3 supplement.
Obviously all of this makes it a little tricker for infants - who are either breastfed, partially breastfed or consuming formula - and aren’t spending much time in the sun since they’re also too young to safely use sunscreen.
The good news? There are safe, easy options for supplementing vitamin D, even for newborns.
What about babies?
● Breastfed infants should be supplemented with 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D3 per day. The easiest way to do this is to use vitamin D3 oil drops.
Quick tip: Formula companies make vitamin D3 supplements for infants, but they’re in a liquid form that has a strong odor and stains baby’s clothes when spit up. There are a few brands that make a vitamin D3 supplement in a pure oil form, though, that doesn’t have an odor or stain. Carlson’s D drops and Nordic Naturals are a couple of reputable brands. (I don’t get paid by these companies to endorse them, I just like them from my own experience.)
● Formula-fed infants will get enough vitamin D from their formula once they are taking 32 oz per day. Before then, having a supplement on hand is a great idea.
Best way to give the liquid to your baby?
● There’s no need to add a vitamin D supplement to a bottle or mix with liquid. Who knows how much ends up on the side of the bottle versus in your baby? Simply drip a drop of oil on your clean finger and let your baby suck on it.
The suggestion from some that you could drip it on your nipple if breastfeeding and then latch your baby, seems way too difficult and complicated to me - but it could have all the makings of a humorous SNL skit or YouTube short!
What if you forget a day?
● The best secret about vitamin D? It’s fat soluble, so your body stores it. This means when you forget to give it to your infant or child, and we all forget, just double or triple up when you remember. For infants, you can give 400 IU every day, 800 IU every other day or 1200 IU every 3 days. Or when it has been a week or two of being up multiple times a night, total brain fog and you don’t know which way is up, just give a bunch of drops.
How long should you be using vitamin D supplements?
● Parents sometimes ask me, ‘When do I stop giving my baby vitamin D?’ The answer is never! We live in New England, your child will never get enough vitamin D from the sun, unless you are vacationing south of Atlanta multiple times per year. If this is the case, I’d love to tag along:)
Vitamin D hacks for older children
● For children older than a year, increase the amount to 1,000 IU/day. The oil drops still work great. The above-mentioned brands also make drops in a concentration of 1,000 IU/drop, 2,000 IU/drop and 4,000 IU/drop.
And now that your kiddo eats solid food, you can drip a drop on a bit of food they’re about to eat. Once they are of preschool age, mine even found it fun to catch the falling vitamin D drop with their tongue!
● After puberty, when your kids are getting to be adult size, you can increase the vitamin D3 amount again, up to 2,000 IU/day depending on their vitamin D level or risk factors. Especially considering we will never get our teens to do anything consistently every single day, the fat-soluble vitamin rule still applies.
You can even buy the 5,000-10,000 IU/gel cap and have them take it once a week…so easy! (maybe)
● Another big- kid tip: Vitamin D3 supplements are a great way for kids to learn to swallow pills. They are small gel caps, so learning with a thick drink like a smoothie or yogurt drink can make it pretty easy.
Look for an upcoming blog with tips on how to help kids swallow pills. Or reach out anytime and I can share some tips with you.
The information in this blog is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.