Almost 1 billion people worldwide get too little vitamin D in their diet. One way to make sure your child doesn't have this problem is to give him baby vitamin D drops. Infants and small children need this nutrient for proper growth and development. Also known as the sunshine vitamin, it helps them build strong, healthy bones, supports immune function and may lower their risk of developing some diseases later in life.
Breastmilk isn't a good source of vitamin D. If you're breastfeeding your baby, talk to your pediatrician about vitamin D supplementation.
The Role of Vitamin D
This fat-soluble vitamin helps your body absorb calcium. Without it, your bones would become thin and brittle. Vitamin D also supports cell growth, keeps your immune system strong and fights inflammation. In fact, vitamin D deficiency is a major contributing factor to osteoporosis, osteomalacia and rickets, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Read more: 9 Ways to Help Avoid Vitamin D Deficiency
Cod liver oil, tuna, beef liver, egg yolks, salmon and cheese all contain this nutrient. One serving of salmon, for example, provides 112 percent of the daily value of vitamin D, according to the NIH. The human body can also produce this vitamin when exposed to sunlight. Strict vegetarians, vegans and people who live in cold climates are more likely to develop a deficiency.
As the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health notes, low vitamin D levels can increase the risk of developing heart disease, infectious disorders, multiple sclerosis and even cancer. The daily recommended intake for adults is 600 IU (15 micrograms) per day. However, daily doses of 2,000 to 4,000 IU appear to be safe.
Vitamin D and Infant Health
Vitamin D is just as important for babies and toddlers as for adults. The NIH recommends a daily intake of 400 IU (10 micrograms) for infants 0 to 12 months old and 600 IU (15 micrograms) for children age one to 13 years. Researchers point out that human milk alone doesn't provide enough vitamin D. Therefore, breastfed infants are more likely to become deficient in this nutrient.
Read more: The 15 Best Foods for Nursing Moms
A one-year study published in the Korean Journal of Pediatrics in May 2013 assessed the vitamin D status in 117 infants. More than 90 percent of breastfed infants were deficient in vitamin D. Female infants seem to be at greater risk. Dietary supplements, such as baby vitamin D drops, may help prevent deficiencies and ensure that your child is developing properly.
According to the World Health Organization, children are born with low vitamin D levels in the bloodstream. Medical professionals recommend supplementing with vitamin D for breastfed babies to prevent rickets, a disorder that causes children's bones to become weak and soft. This condition is more common in babies, ages 6 to 24 months, leading to bone pain, muscle cramps, impaired growth, skeletal deformities and fractures.
Baby Vitamin D Drops Dosage
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to use chewable multivitamins or vitamin D drops for infants. Choose a supplement that provides around 400 IU per dose. The same applies to infant formulas and liquid vitamin D for breastfed babies. Higher doses may be needed for children with cystic fibrosis and other chronic disorders.
This vitamin is fat soluble, so it doesn't dissolve in water. To ensure maximum absorption, give your child vitamin D drops along with high-fat foods, such as breastmilk or formula.
Read more: Foods With High Vitamin D
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breastfed and partially breastfed babies should take vitamin D supplements from their first days of life. Liquid formulas are ideal for infants, while chewable vitamins work best for children older than three years of age. Fortified foods, such as yogurt, milk and whole grains, are a good choice for older babies and toddlers, too.
- The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association: "Vitamin D Deficiency, Its Role in Health and Disease, and Current Supplementation Recommendations"
- NIH: "Vitamin D"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Vitamin D and Health"
- Korean Journal of Pediatrics: "Vitamin D Deficiency in Infants Aged 1 to 6 Months"
- WHO: "Vitamin D Supplementation in Infants"
- MedlinePlus: "Rickets"
- American Academy of Pediatrics - Healthy Children: "Vitamin D - On the Double"