Vitamin D is needed for strong bones, but only a few foods naturally contain large amounts. That’s because we rely on sunlight for our bodies to produce it; a vitamin D shortage is actually a sunlight shortage. A few minutes of direct exposure a day is usually enough to ensure the right level of vitamin D.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children from infancy through adolescence receive at least 400 IUs of vitamin D daily. But the AAP also recommends that babies and children be kept out of direct sun as much as possible (and to wear sunscreen when outdoors) to protect against skin cancer. Sunscreen prevents the body’s production of vitamin D.
All full-term newborns have stores of vitamin D that are enough for the first 8 weeks of life, even without sun exposure. However, in one study, vitamin D deficiency was prevalent in a group of otherwise healthy older infants and toddlers.
Vitamin D Supplements
To avoid deficiencies in babies, the AAP recommends that all exclusively breastfed babies be given a daily supplement of vitamin D until they are weaned to at least a quart of whole milk a day (and whole milk should not be given until after 12 months of age).
Vitamin D is added to formula, but babies who drink less than a quart of formula a day may also need supplemental vitamin D. Talk with your baby’s healthcare provider about the recommended dosage.
Learn more about the recommendations.
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