A quick Facebook chat with new mums this week has confirmed what I thought – there is a lot of confusion, conflicting advice and lack of information about baby vitamins.
So I have attempted to gather together the range of information and discussion to make more sense of baby and child vitamins…
The NHS recommends that breastfed babies are given a daily supplement of Vitamin D (8.5-10 micrograms). If your baby has more than 500ml of formula per day, then you do not need to supplement.
UNICEF states that giving babies Vitamin D is just a precaution because there is very little evidence of significant deficiency in babies.
From speaking to mums and having a google, there is also some confusion about their Vitamin D intake and whether that is enough for their breastfed baby. Kellymom has some brilliant information as well as a great article which refers to research which has found that breastfeeding women would need to take more than the recommended 10mcg: from 50-100mcg would provide enough vitamin D for mum and her breastfed baby.
What is the issue with Vitamin D?
Stores of vitamin D in newborn babies is built during pregnancy and the levels in breastmilk are based on mum’s intake and stores of vitamin D.
We absorb vitamin D through the sun, so it is an issue in the Northern hemisphere because we don’t get enough sun. UNICEF is very clear to point out that it is not that breastmilk is deficient, the recommendations for vitamin D supplements are based on lack of sunlight.
Kellymom talks about higher levels of vitamin D supplements for breastfeeding mothers because it can be difficult to administer and remember.
Sunlight and Vitamin D
In the UK, we will get most of our sun exposure from the end of March until the end of September – so only 6 months of the year – and between 11am – 3pm is best. But you also need to make sure you don’t get sunburnt – babies and children should be kept out of direct sunlight. During the winter months, we need to rely on supplements and our food (such as salmon, mackeral, red meat, egg yolks and fortified cereals.
Babies & Children
The NHS recommends that children aged from 6 months to 5 years old have a daily supplement which contains vitamins A, C & D.
I hope this information is useful – I have provided links so you can read the information for yourself. And please do share it so other parents can read more about baby vitamins.
Janine | Birth, Baby & Family
A specialist in pregnancy, birth and early parenting