The main way our bodies get vitamin D is through our skin being exposed to sunlight. We get a small amount through healthy foods like salmon and egg yolks. A deficiency of this nutrient can lead to a whole host of health problems. Our modern lifestyle obviously has us spending less time outdoors, and when we do we slather ourselves and especially our children with sunscreen. To top it off, many of us do not include vitamin D foods in our diet regularly.
Your and your baby's risk of being low in vitamin D depend on things like:
- how much you're outside in pregnancy and if breastfeeding
- how much your baby is outside
- how dark your skin or baby's skin is (lighter=higher levels of vitamin D)
- where you live
- your diet
- the amount of clothing you wear
- how often you bathe (and wash vitamin D off before absorption)
Some parents feel strange about giving their babies anything other than breastmilk for the first months. Recently, it's been found that as long as the MOTHER is getting enough vitamin D, so will her breastfeeding infant. This makes sense. So how much do moms need? Here's some current research:
When mothers took 6400 IU of vitamin D their infants had no need for supplementation
When mothers took only 1000 IUs it did not raise levels in milk, but 4000 IUs daily did
2000 IUs could increase levels, but 4000 IUs were needed before infants didn't need supplements
If you'd like to learn even more about vitamin D, listen to this podcast by Dr. Bruce Hollis.