Vitamin D Recommendation

The Recommendation

The American Academy of Pediatrics(AAP) recommends that newborns are exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life for a wide array of benefits.  Breastfeeding is then recommended with solid foods for at least the age of 12 months.  Breast milk provides newborns with all the nutrition and calories to gain and develop during that period of time.

In many regions of the world and especially the United States, many adults suffer from Vitamin D deficiency.  Vitamin D deficiency has become a concern because overall we are eating fewer foods with Vitamin D (milk, oily fish, kale and collard greens) and spending a lot less time outside (sunlight provides the ability of our skin to make Vitamin D).  Furthermore, the time spent outdoors is usually spent with sunscreen applied to our skin which interferes with Vitamin D production.

Vitamin D is important for bone health and preventing diseases associated with weakening of the bones like rickets, osteomalacia, and bone fractures.  There is evidence that Vitamin D is important for a strong immune system and may help prevent other illnesses including cancer and cardiovascular disease.

A mother’s breast milk has enough vitamin D, if the mother has enough Vitamin D.  But given that approximately 75% of adults in the United States are Vitamin D deficient and a mother’s breast milk Vitamin D level depends on her having a normal Vitamin D level, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all breastfeeding infants should receive a supplement of 400 IU of Vitamin D per day.  It is recommended they start this supplementation soon after birth and continue it at least until they are eating foods high in Vitamin D themselves.  Vitamin D supplements for newborns are found easily over-the-counter at the local pharmacy.  The dose of 400IU is usually 1 ml or 1 drop depending on the product you purchase.  This can be easily placed into the child mouth or administered during feeding.

As a breastfeeding mother, should I take a Vitamin D supplement?

If you are considered high risk, you may want to consider talking to your doctor about checking your vitamin D level and taking a Vitamin D supplement as well.  For adults, it is usually recommended to take 800-1200 IU daily which can be found over-the-counter in capsules or chewable tablets.  Don’t forget about your prenatal vitamin!  It is recommended that nursing mothers continue their prenatal vitamin as well and most do contain at least some Vitamin D.