Health Canada recommends that all breast-fed, healthy term infants in Canada receive a daily vitamin D supplement of 400 IU.
Supplementation should begin at birth and continue until the infant’s diet includes at least 400 IU per day of vitamin D from other dietary sources or until the breast-fed infant reaches one year of age.
Dr. Peter Harland supports the recommendations.
“Extra vitamin D is important for a breast-fed baby’s growth and development. It builds strong bones,” he noted.
“New evidence suggests that it may reduce the chance of developing some diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and multiple sclerosis,” he added.
Sunlight is the main source of vitamin D. In Northwestern Ontario, our exposure to sun is limited—and this is further affected by current sun protection advice.
Not having enough vitamin D can lead to problems with bones and teeth, and can affect body tissue and function.
Vitamin D supplementation should be based on your baby’s unique needs. To find out the right amount of vitamin D for your baby, talk to your health-care provider.
“Vitamin D is important throughout the lifespan,” said Dr. Karen Mazurski. “[But] research is showing that many Canadians do not get enough vitamin D.
“Making sure exclusively breast-fed babies receive vitamin D is a vital start,” she stressed.
During World Breastfeeding Week 2009, the Northwestern Health Unit will be promoting vitamin D supplementation for exclusively breast-fed infants.
Contact the Northwestern Health Unit at 1-800-465-4377 and ask a Healthy Babies/Healthy Children public health nurse for information and a free sample while supplies last.