There is a lot to worry about when having a child. You need to make sure they’re eating and drinking enough, they’re hitting their developmental milestones, they’re sleeping a good amount… The list could go on for ages. One thing that I originally didn’t realise we needed to worry about was Vitamin D. Are our children getting enough?
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D (Vit D) is important for every stage of a humans life, but it’s extremely important for growing infants, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. It is an essential vitamin for healthy bones and to control the amount of calcium in the bodies blood. The natural way of getting it into our bodies is either through our diet or sunlight. Only a few natural foods contain Vit D which includes oily fish and eggs. A lot of children’s yoghurts are fortified with Vit D to increase the amount they get in their diets.
Sunlight is probably the most well known way of getting Vit D into your system. Unfortunately where I live (UK) according to research we’re limited to only about 7 months of enough sunlight to get Vit D. Between November and March the sun isn’t high enough in the sky to provide us with enough sunlight for significant amount of Vit D. That’s a long time of ‘not enough’ sunlight!
Vitamin D Deficiency
A few months ago I went to the doctor complaining about tiredness and no energy. She sent me off for some blood tests and it turns out I am Vit D deficient. When I went back to the doctor she told me she’d actually be more surprised seeing someone without a Vit D deficiency. A survey found that 1 in 5 adults in the UK have low Vit D levels. The risk of Vit D deficiency is higher in a body that has an increased need for it, for example pregnant and breastfeeding women, and infants.
The Importance Of Vitamin D In Infants
I’ll hold my hands up now and admit I really didn’t realise how important it was to make sure your little one is getting enough Vitamin D in their diet. It was only until I saw another mother complaining they were never informed by their health visitor when I discovered the importance of it. Obviously I could relate to this mother as I was never told about it either. Turns out parents are recommended to give their little one Vit D supplements from quite a young age – all depending whether they’re breastfed or formula fed. Oliver had just had his 1st birthday when I found out, so he’d gone about 4 months without a supplement – not too long but long enough to scare me! Oliver was formula fed which includes Vit D, however breastfed babies are encouraged to have the extra Vit D because of the high chance of breastfeeding women having low Vit D in their bodies.
The main reason parents are encouraged to give their infants Vitamin D supplements is to prevent a condition called Rickets. Rickets is a condition that affects the bone development in children and can cause the bones to become weak and soft, which can then lead to deformities. This is obviously something that none of us want to happen to our little ones!
Vitamin D Supplements
As soon as I found out Oliver was recommended to be taking a Vitamin D supplement I bought it straight away. I ended up buying this Vit D supplement. At his age (16 months) he has 1ml of the drops in his juice a day. The drops have no flavour to them so they can be added to any drink they may be having.
I’ve seen a lot of information around but most of them state that infants should be taking supplements till the age of around 5 years old – I’d recommend checking with a GP or Health Visitor beforehand. Obviously supplements shouldn’t be relied on and infants should still be getting as much sunlight and Vit D from their diets as possible. Supplements work as a top-up I guess, a way to make sure that infants definitely are getting enough Vit D in their bodies.
I honestly don’t know how common it is for parents to be told their infant should be taking Vitamin D supplements – it may just be something parents are ‘meant’ to know! I’ve written this post for awareness of the topic. Seeing as I knew very little about it there may be another parent out there in the same boat as I was. I’d hate for someone to not know much about this because they weren’t informed like I wasn’t. If you’re worried or confused about your little one’s intake of Vitamin D I would highly recommend you talk to your GP. It won’t be too late to start Vitamin D supplements.
What are your experiences with Vitamin D supplements? Were you advised early on or did you have a similar experience to mine? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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