Vitamin D is plentiful in certain foods as well as from sunlight. It is called the sun vitamin because it is produced in the skin with the help of sunlight. Since babies are on a strict diet and are often shielded from the sun, how can you make sure that they are not at risk of a vitamin D deficiency?
Vitamin D supports the framework of the body: the skeletal system. As part of a balanced diet, vitamin D keep the bones from getting weak or deformed. A strong frame leads to protection for the muscles and organs in the body as well. Benefits of this vitamin in children include:
Children need about 600 IU of vitamin D daily. Some of that comes from food, about 10-20%. The rest of it comes from the skin. But what about breast milk? The fact is, nursing mothers who take a vitamin D supplement are still not producing enough of the vitamin in their milk. Whether your baby is breast fed or formula fed with a fortified product, it is important to ensure that your baby gets enough vitamin D. Breastfed babies can start taking a vitamin D supplement early on as recommended by a pediatrician. Formula fed babies can be checked out by a pediatrician to see if they need a supplement as well.
By the time your baby is six months, they do not have to avoid direct sunlight as directed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). However, you still have to minimize their risk of skin cancer caused by direct sunlight. A little bit of sunlight as older infants and toddlers will help with making their own vitamin D.
Babies are at risk of vitamin D deficiency because they cannot be exposed to direct sunlight, an important component for making vitamin D. Also, people who live in urban, more polluted environments as well as those who live in regions with fewer hours of sunlight each winter day (Canada, Alaska, etc.) are also at risk. Darker skin tones and sunscreen can reduce the body's ability to make vitamin D. All of these things can attribute to vitamin D deficiency. Symptoms include:
Rickets is a disease caused by vitamin D deficiency. Over time, children who do not consume enough calcium or absorb it due to a vitamin D deficiency can be affected with softening bones and bow legs.
It is more common to be deficient in vitamin D than to have it in abundance. However, it is possible, though rare, for those people who take high dose supplements over the long term. In babies, symptoms can including nausea and vomiting, frequent urination and constipation, to name a few. That is why if your pediatrician recommends a certain dosage of vitamin D, it is in your baby's best interest to adhere to the directions.
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