What Vitamins Should You Give Newborns?
Have your seen the vitamin supplements in stores? If you wonder if your baby needs extra vitamins, read further.
Your newborn is a complex creature that is jumping right into growth and development. From your own experience with nutrition, you know that vitamins and minerals are crucial to your own health and wellness. Even though you are breastfeeding, supplementing with organic baby formula, or exclusively bottle feeding, you may want to discuss with your pediatrician if your baby is getting everything they need.
If there is any type of supplement that your pediatrician will recommend, it is vitamin D drops. One drop a day (about 400 IU) is usually all your baby will need, especially if you are nursing. Why? As great as breast milk is, only a little of it actually transfers from you to your baby. Also, your baby cannot make their own vitamin D from exposure to sunlight because their skin is too delicate for the sun's rays. Even though your baby is drinking fortified formula, a vitamin D supplement may be recommended as well. Babies needs vitamin D to regulate:
- the absorption of minerals including calcium and phosphorus
- a normal immune system function to help ward off sickness and diseases
- growth and development of teeth and skeletal system
Iron is included in baby formula. European organic formulas maintain a level of about one-half mg per kilogram per day. This is the minimal recommendation of the World Health Organization, but does not quality as low-iron or iron-free. Cow's milk aids the absorption of iron better than soy milk or soy-based formulas.
When babies are deficient in iron, they are anemic. This can be the case when babies are born prematurely because they have less iron stores than a full-term baby. A baby's iron stores can last between four and six months of age before they need to boost their iron intake. Breast milk contains iron, but your baby will need to consume foods rich in iron to keep up with their need. Your pediatrician may recommend an iron supplement for your premature baby or a baby at risk of anemia. Babies need iron to regulate:
- the flow of oxygen in the blood to organs, muscles, and the brain
- normal growth and development
- a healthy immune system with minimal infections
Vitamin B12 is generally found in animal products including meat, fish, poultry, and eggs. Certain medications or lifestyles can cause a B12 deficiency. If you are breastfeeding and a strict vegan, your baby may not be getting enough B12 unless you are supplementing your nutrition with a fortified diet or taking a B12 vitamin or multivitamin. Not every baby may need a vitamin B12 supplement, but if you are nursing and fall under these risk factors, you need to tell your pediatrician to be sure. Babies need vitamin B12 to regulate:
- production of red blood cells
- nervous system function
- vision development
DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that has some debate as to whether or not your baby needs it. DHA is found naturally in breast milk along with other essential fatty acids. When it comes to baby formula, the debate stems from how DHA is derived. Conventional and even some organic baby formulas would use seaweed or algae as a source of DHA, but it was extracted using a neurotoxin called hexane. Baby formula manufacturers are not allowed to use hexane, but some companies are not clear as to how they extract the DHA currently.
Organic baby formula companies such as Hipp Organic from Germany uses organic fish oil as the source of DHA for all of its baby formulas. However vegetarians, vegans, and those who may be allergic to fish products cannot use this form of DHA. Holle and Lebenswert organic baby formulas do not contain DHA for those who do not want it. DHA is not a requirement in your baby's diet, so it is up to you to have that option. Babies can benefit from DHA to regulate:
- brain development
- eye development
- normal cognitive function