F calls it our, “Seattle Vitamin.” In the upper left hand corner of the US (read: Seattle) we’re a little lacking in sunshine. It’s a product of not only our rainy weather, but our latitude on the globe. New data finds that taking supplemental vitamin D may be more important for we mamas, we city dwellers, and we little ones (infants) than we thought. Especially up here where the sunshine comes around about every fifth day.
Vitamins are so well engineered these days (gummy what?) my boys think they are a marvelous daily treat. So do I.
A study yesterday in Pediatrics finds that urban Boston moms (think Northern climate) who spent at least ½ of their pregnancy living in the city, were at far greater risk for having vitamin D deficiency than we thought. So were their babies! In this group of urban moms, up to 58% of newborns and 36% of the moms at the time of delivery were vitamin D deficient. Holy deluge of D deficiency! Say it with me…
A second study published yesterday found that we are doing a poor job getting babies the vitamin D they need. Less than 1/10 of all breast fed babies and less than 1/3 of formula fed babies are getting the vitamin D pediatricians recommend. Something has to change.
Add a liquid Vitamin D supplement for your infant to your daily to-do list. It should look something like this:
1. Feed the baby
2. Change the diaper
3. Get ready for nap. Nap. Scramble to deal with life-chores. Hear the baby cry and awaken.
4. Give 1 cc of Vitamin D (liquid infant vitamin) to your baby
5. Feed the baby
6. Feed yourself. Repeat.
Vitamin D gets a lot of credit. It’s a total brown-noser. We think it’s important not only for healthy bone development but also for good muscle function, immune function and prevention of serious disease like type 1 diabetes in childhood. Studies in adults find Vitamin D can reduce rates of C-section (helps the uterus work), prevention of some cancers, prevention of infections, and less autoimmune disease like MS and Rheumatoid arthritis. Vitamin D in childhood may stave off later cancer in life, too.
Does it seem like you’re hearing a lot about vitamin D lately? Did Dr Sunshine grace your Sunday reading this week? Well, get used to it. It may be the Vitamin of the year. I just sent in my nomination…
You get vitamin D two ways:
- You can eat it. (Egg yolks, fortified milk, fortified cereals, and fatty fish)
- You absorb UV-B light (from the sun) and your body makes it. Sunscreen blocks this UV-B light though so if you listen to your doctor and wear sunscreen, you may not get much of it.
In the US, we get less sunshine between October and March so babies born in these months may be at higher risk of deficiency, too. So may you during these dark days.
Talk to your doctor. Talk to your pediatrician.
Here’s the thing: we doctors tell you never to let your infant in the sun without protection. We tell you always to have your children slathered in sunscreen while in the sun. But without that sun, they will make no vitamin D.
So, babies and children must consume it.
These 2 studies published yesterday have convinced me to council all families on giving infants vitamin D no matter what they eat (breast milk or formula). Because until a baby is drinking 1 Liter (about 32 oz) of formula every day, they need a supplement of vitamin D.
And those kids and adolescents need vitamin D, too. Same dose.
400 International units (IU) for all. Now off for that gummy sunshine. And addendums to my to-do list…Tomorrow, part 2, too.