What Does It Do?
Babies who don't get enough vitamin D are at risk of getting rickets, a disease that affects the way bones grow and develop. Vitamin D is a factor in the formation and maintenance of bones and teeth. It enhances calcium and phosphorus absorption and utilization.
How Much Do They Need?
Breast milk offers the best nutrition for your baby. However, the average vitamin D content of breast milk is low (<25 - 78 IU/L)* and may not be high enough to meet your baby's needs. That's why the Canadian Paediatric Society, Health Canada and the Dietitians of Canada recommend that all breastfed, healthy term babies in Canada receive a daily vitamin D supplement of at least 400 IU such as in Enfamil® D-Vi-Sol®. They further recommend that you give your baby a daily vitamin D supplement at birth and continue until her diet provides at least 400 IU per day of vitamin D from other dietary sources, or until she is 1 year old. Babies in northern communities (north of 55° latitude, which is about the level of Edmonton) or who have other risk factors (such as dark skin) should get 800 IU per day between October and April, where there is less sunlight.
*Range of vitamin D levels in breast milk, measured in lactating women taking a daily vitamin D supplement of 400 IU.
Do babies who are formula fed need extra vitamin D?
Since vitamin D is already added to infant formula, babies who are formula feeding may be getting sufficient vitamin D. However, a baby will need to drink about 4 X 250 mL (8 fl oz) bottles of formula per day to get the recommended 400 IU of vitamin D. Formula fed babies in northern communities should receive a supplement of 400 IU per day during October to April to ensure they have enough vitamin D.
Food sources of vitamin D
Not all foods are a good source of vitamin D. The table below provides a list of the some common Canadian dietary sources of vitamin D.
Food International Units of Vitamin D
- Egg yolk, 1 unit 25 IU
- All cow’s milk (fortified), 250 mL*† 88 IU
- Infant formula (fortified), 250 mL 100 IU
- Margarine (fortified), 1 tsp 25 IU
- Salmon, cooked, 1 oz 103 IU
*Cow’s milk is not recommended before 9-12 months of age. †Value obtained from average vitamin D content of 3.3%, 2% and 1% cow’s milk.