Benefits of Vitamin D3 for Babies
DISCLAIMER: This article has been written for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment
Although most people are aware of the benefits of vitamin D3 for babies to prevent rickets, a condition in which the bones of children soften, there’re many other benefits of vitamin D3 for babies that only a few people know about.
While vitamin d3 is essential in the development and growth of babies, deficiency of this vital substance may lead to a variety of health risks. In this article, we’ll explore some common benefits of vitamin D3 for babies along with sources, daily requirements, and possible side effects. So, let’s get started.
Table of contents
- What is vitamin D3?
- Why do babies need vitamin D3 supplements?
- Risks of low vitamin D3 levels
- How do you know whether your baby is at risk of vitamin d3 deficiency?
- How to get vitamin D3 for babies
- How to use vitamin D3 supplements for babies
- Precautions and side effects
- Final words
What is vitamin D3?
Vitamin d3, also called cholecalciferol, is a form of vitamin D alongside vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 is more efficient compared to vitamin D2. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin that helps the human body absorb calcium and phosphorus that are vital for developing healthy bones and teeth.
Why do babies need vitamin D3 supplements?
Since vitamin D3 has a great role in the development and growth of babies' health especially for bones and teeth, babies need vitamin D3 from the very beginning shortly after birth.
Studies have also found that vitamin D may help strengthen the immune system and prevent various health conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), heart disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), and even certain forms of cancers.
Vitamin D3 is usually obtained from foods and sunlight. But most of the time babies don’t get an adequate amount of vitamin D3 for various reasons.
Some of the most common reasons why babies need vitamin D3 supplements may include:
- Babies’ foods such as breast milk might not contain enough vitamin D3.
- Babies’ skins are very sensitive to sunlight and may not tolerate the effects of direct sunlight, thus, can’t produce an ample amount of vitamin D3 from sunlight.
- During the early stage up to 12 months, babies grow very fast and may need a greater amount of vitamin D3 to form healthy bones and teeth.
- Middle Eastern, African, Indian, and Afro-Caribbean babies are more likely to have lower levels of vitamin D3.
Risks of low vitamin D3 levels
Excessive low levels of vitamin D3 may contribute to developing rickets or osteomalacia in growing babies.
Rickets is a bone condition in which the bones lose their density and become soft, leading to serious bone deformities like spine curves and bowed legs.
Osteomalacia is also a bone condition that is characterized by soft and fragile bones but is more common in adults and grown children.
How do you know whether your baby is at risk of vitamin D3 deficiency?
Babies are at higher risks of vitamin D3 deficiency if:
- They are being breastfed
- Their moms don’t have enough vitamin D3
- Their skin is doesn’t get sufficient sunlight
- They get darker skin
- They belong to communities that commonly hold low levels of vitamin D3
How to get vitamin D3 for babies
Vitamin D3 can be obtained from different sources. Major sources of vitamin D3 include:
Foods - Vitamin D3 mainly comes from foods. Breast milk contains vitamin D3 but in low amounts which isn’t sufficient for meeting babies’ requirements. Therefore, vitamin D3 is added in most cow’s milk, margarine, and fortified formulas during production. Animal foods such as egg yolks, fatty fishes like tuna and whitefish are also good sources of vitamin D3.
Sunlight - Vitamin D3 is naturally produced when the skin is exposed to direct sunlight. Clothing, sunscreen, and tanned skin (darker skin) are helpful for protecting babies from the UV radiations of sunlight, but won’t allow them to synthesize vitamin D3.
Vitamin D3 supplements - The easiest way to fill up the gaps of daily requirements of vitamin D3 in babies is vitamin D3 supplements. For babies, most vitamin D3 supplements come in the form of liquid drops and are given through a dropper. Always check the labels carefully to know the recommended doses before using any vitamin D3 supplements.
How to use vitamin D3 supplements for babies
The actual dose of vitamin D3 supplements for babies depends on their ages, medical conditions, and other health factors. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), infants should get at least 400 IU (international units) of vitamin D supplement per day.
Babies who are formula-fed usually meet this requirement. But since breast milk doesn’t have enough vitamin D3, babies who are breastfed may require an extra dose of vitamin D3 supplement to meet their daily requirements. Besides, babies with one or more risk factors may require higher doses of vitamin D3 supplements.
To determine the best dose of vitamin D3 supplement for your baby’s specific condition, it’s highly recommended to consult with your child specialist before giving your baby a vitamin D3 supplement.
Precautions and side effects
Vitamin D3 is likely safe for most babies when given with recommended doses. Excessive higher doses may cause nausea, vomiting, constipation, swelling, difficulty breathing, and issues in babies’ growth.
Whenever you consider buying a vitamin D3 supplement, make sure you buy from reputed and reliable brands that contain only vitamin D3 and are suitable for babies.
To avoid any unpleasant adverse effects and get the optimal benefits of vitamin d3 for babies, it’s strongly recommended to consult with a child specialist before using any vitamin D3 supplements for babies.
Vitamin D3 plays a vital role in the growth and development of babies. The benefits of vitamin D3 for babies aren’t limited to just building strong teeth and bones, but also provide significant support to the immune system to prevent various disease conditions such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Babies require at least 400 IU vitamin D supplement per day from shortly after birth.
Though vitamin D3 supplements that are made for babies’ use are generally safe for most babies, excess large doses may cause some side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and constipation. It’s highly recommended to ask your medical doctor before supplementing your baby with vitamin D3.
Kindly check out Vorst’s Vitamin D3 400 IU for Baby and Kid here.