Do women need vitamin D supplements during pregnancy and do infants need vitamin D supplements?
Vitamin D regulates the amount of calcium and phosphorus in your blood and also helps your bones absorb the calcium they need. Without vitamin D, your bones will become brittle and mishapen. It is important during your pregnancy to make sure you are getting enough of this important vitamin. Most of us receive it either through exposure to sunlight or from foods with a high concentration of vitamin D.
Studies have found that in pregnant women, vitamin D can decrease the risk of preeclampsia, improve the length of gestation, birth weight and infant bone density. A sufficient amount of vitamin D in a baby's early life may decrease the risk of future health problems including schizophrenia, brain tumors, asthma, multiple sclerosis and autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes.
If you are pregnant, make sure to take your prenatal vitamin every day. This will help you to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D during your pregnancy. Check with your doctor if you are unsure whether or not you need to supplement your prenatal vitamin with a multivitamin containing the recommended daily allowance of 200 international units of vitamin D. It is not advisable to go out and buy just any amount of vitamin D since too much of it can be toxic. It is always advisable to check with your physician before you buy.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- If you are formula feeding, your baby also needs to be given a daily vitamin D supplement of 400 international units until he/she is drinking at least a liter of formula a day.
If your baby is older than six months, you can boost his/her vitamin D level with daily exposure to sunlight. 30 minutes of exposure a week without sunscreen is sufficient. Two hours, or more, of sunlight each week is permissible with sunscreen. However, be sure your baby is properly dressed for the weather.
These tips will help your baby maintain healthy levels of vitamin D. If you are unsure of the amount of vitamin D to give your child, consult your doctor.