Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally produced when your skin is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D, but foods supplemented with it (primarily milk) and vitamin supplements can help people get the vitamin D they need.
Long noted for its role in aiding the calcium absorption needed for building strong bones, researchers have also studied whether consuming vitamin D can lower the risk of developing diabetes. A 2008 report, analyzing years of research, concluded that supplementing babies’ diets with vitamin D may protect them from developing type 1 diabetes later in life.*
What does this mean for you and your baby? Since breast milk contains minimal amounts of vitamin D and you can’t guarantee your child will safely get enough sun exposure, mothers who breastfeed should talk with their doctors about supplementing their child’s diet with vitamin D.** If you don’t breastfeed, all baby formulas sold in the United States contain a sufficient amount of vitamin D.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced in October 2008 that it doubled the amount of vitamin D recommended for infants and children to 400 international units (IU) per day.*** Talk with your pediatrician to make sure your child is receiving the appropriate amount. See www.aap.org for more information.
*Source: Archives of Disease in Childhood, June 2008.
**The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding infants for at least 12 months.
***Source: American Academy of Pediatrics, October 2008.