Posts Tagged ‘vitamin D’

What should you look for in a prenatal vitamin?

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

Your body uses vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to help it stay strong and healthy. During pregnancy it’s hard to get the right amount of some vitamins and minerals just through food. That’s why you should take a prenatal vitamin every day during pregnancy. Taking prenatal vitamins along with eating healthy foods can make sure that you and your baby get the nutrients you both need.

Here’s what you should look for in a prenatal vitamin:

Folic acid: 600 micrograms

Folic acid is a B vitamin that every cell in your body needs for healthy growth and development. Taking it before and during early pregnancy, can help prevent neural tube defects (also called NTDs).

Some foods such as bread, cereal, and corn masa have folic acid added to them. Look for “fortified” or “enriched” on the label.

When folic acid is naturally in a food, it’s called folate. Sources of folate include:

  • Leafy green vegetables, like spinach and broccoli
  • Lentils and beans
  • Orange juice

Iron: 27 milligrams

Iron is a mineral. Your body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a protein that helps carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. Your body needs twice as much iron during pregnancy to carry oxygen to your baby.

Iron-rich foods include:

  • Lean meat, poultry and seafood
  • Cereal, bread and pasta that has iron added to it (check the package label)
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Beans, nuts, raisins and dried fruit

Calcium: 1,000 milligrams

Calcium is a mineral that helps your baby’s bones, teeth, heart, muscles and nerves develop.

Calcium is found in:

  • Milk, cheese and yogurt
  • Broccoli and kale
  • Orange juice that has calcium added to it (check the label)

Vitamin D: 600 IU (international units)

Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium and helps your nerves, muscles and immune system work. Your baby needs vitamin D to help his bones and teeth grow.

Vitamin D is found in foods such as:

  • Fatty fish, like salmon
  • Milk and cereal that has vitamin D added to it (check the package label)

DHA: 200 milligrams

DHA stands for docosahexaenoic acid. It’s a kind of fat (called omega-3 fatty acid) that helps with growth and development. During pregnancy, DHA helps your baby’s brain and eyes develop.

Not all prenatal vitamins contain DHA, so ask your provider if you need a DHA supplement. DHA can be found in some foods including:

  • Fish that are low in mercury, like herring, salmon, trout, anchovies and halibut. During pregnancy, eat 8-12 ounces of these kinds of fish each week.
  • Orange juice, milk and eggs that have DHA added to them (check the label)

Iodine: 220 micrograms

Iodine is a mineral your body needs to make thyroid hormones. You need iodine during pregnancy to help your baby’s brain and nervous system develop.

Not all prenatal vitamins have iodine, so make sure you eat foods that have iodine in them. This includes:

  • Fish
  • Milk, cheese and yogurt
  • Enriched or fortified cereal and bread (check the package label)
  • Iodized salt (salt with iodine added to it; check the package label)

A note about vitamin A….

Your baby needs vitamin A for healthy growth and development during pregnancy. But too much may cause birth defects.

Preformed vitamin A is found in foods such as liver and fish liver oil. You should avoid fish liver oil supplements during pregnancy, but occasionally you can eat a small portion of liver. Very high levels of preformed vitamin A can cause birth defects. You should not get more than 10,000 international units (IU) of vitamin A each day.

Beta carotene is another form of vitamin A found in certain yellow and green vegetables. Beta carotene is not associated with birth defects and is safe to consume.

Talk to your health care provider about getting the right amount of vitamin A from healthy eating and your prenatal vitamin.

Make sure to tell your provider about any additional vitamins or supplements that you take.

Is baby getting enough vitamin D? Are you?

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

We have long said, and still do, that breastmilk is best for infants. It is full of important minerals and nutrients to help your little one grow. Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t contain enough vitamin D to meet the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines.

Vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium and phosphorus. Breastfed babies need an additional 400 IU of vitamin D each day until they’re weaned to fortified formula and can drink at least one liter (about 4 ¼ cups) every day. Starting at age 1, babies drinking plenty of milk fortified with vitamin D may no longer need a vitamin D supplement.

As your children grow and start eating solids, include foods that are rich in vitamin D, like fatty fish, eggs, and milk. But be aware that older children and even adults have a hard time getting the recommended levels of the vitamin through food alone.  Check with your child’s doc to see if she should take a supplement with 400 IU to 600 IU. That amount is often included in chewable multivitamins which most kids like taking. Children with some chronic diseases such as cystic fibrosis may be at increased risk for vitamin D deficiency and may need an even higher dose in a supplement.

You may have heard that the body makes its own vitamin D when exposed to ultraviolet B (UBV) rays from the sun. While true, sun exposure can be hazardous to baby’s skin and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of 6 months avoid sun exposure. All other children and adults need to slather on the sunscreen throughout the day which can block the production of vitamin D. Pregnant women have particularly sensitive skin and should pay attention to sunscreen.

Important note: Be sure not to give too much vitamin D to babies. More of a good thing often is not good. High doses can cause a host of symptoms including nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, excessive thirst, muscle aches, or more serious symptoms. Some researchers are beginning to suggest that adults should take far more vitamin D than the 600 IU daily guideline. But too much may be dangerous. Very high doses of vitamin D can raise your blood calcium level, causing damage to blood vessels, heart, and kidneys. The Institute of Medicine sets the upper tolerable limit at 4,000 IU of vitamin D per day. Check with your health care provider for the right amount for you.

And what about additional vitamin D from the sun? Fortunately, you can’t get too much vitamin D from the sun because your body simply stops making more. But don’t forget that sun exposure without plenty of sunscreen can raise your risk of skin cancer. So, apply the sunscreen and take whatever supplement your provider recommends.

Give babies right amount of Vitamin D

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

vitamin-d-2You may remember our past posts on the importance of giving babies their vitamin D supplements. This is especially true for breastfed babies or babies that eat less than 1 L/day of infant formula. Vitamin D helps prevent a bone-weakening disease called rickets. Babies can get this important nutrient from vitamin D drops.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants parents to make sure they’re giving babies the right amount of vitamin D drops. Babies need 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day. But some vitamin D supplements may be sold with droppers that could allow for parents to accidentally give too much Vitamin D to their babies. Too much vitamin D may cause things like nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, excessive thirst, frequent urination, constipation, abdominal pain, muscle weakness, fatigue and other health concerns.

The FDA is working with manufactures to ensure vitamin D supplements for infants are sold with droppers that hold no more than the recommended amount for babies. In the meantime, when giving your baby her daily vitamin D drops, be sure you’ve filled the dropper to no more than 400 international units (IU). Visit the FDA Web site for more information. Learn more about vitamin D and breastfed babies.

Vitamin D showing great promise

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Over the past year or two I have read several articles about vitamin D deficiency in adults and the link to a number of health problems.  Some researchers believe that decreased sun exposure (to help prevent skin cancer) and the growing obesity epidemic are the cause of vitamin D deficiency.  (This is yet another reason for trying to reach your ideal weight before you conceive.)

The current guideline for vitamin D consumption during pregnancy is 200-400 IU per day, which is found in most prenatal vitamins.  Up to now, a daily intake of 2,000 IU has been considered unsafe for anyone to take, pregnant or not.

A new study, looking at pregnant women in their second and third trimesters, says that daily high doses (4,000 IU) of vitamin D appear to significantly reduce risks of developing complications during pregnancy such as infections or preterm labor and birth.  The authors, presenting at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Vancouver,  B.C., also suggest that not enough vitamin D increases the risk of developing high blood pressure during pregnancy.

This is an exciting and promising study, although it needs to be confirmed by further research before a change in daily intake recommendations can be made.  But it may be a good idea for pregnant women to have their vitamin D levels checked and to have a conversation with their providers about how much vitamin D supplementation they should take.  Don’t bump it up yourself, though, without first having that conversation.

With all the current research on vitamin D, the Institute of Medicine is now debating changing its guidelines for vitamin D intake for everyone, including pregnant women.  Stay tuned – we’ll keep you posted.

Too many kids don’t get enough vitamin D

Friday, August 7th, 2009

vitamin-dKids need vitamins to help them grow strong and healthy. But a new study in this month’s Pediatrics journal finds that nearly 7 out of 10 kids aren’t getting enough vitamin D. This is alarming because vitamin D is an important nutrient in preventing bone-weakening diseases in children as well as other health complications that can occur later in life, like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

The study examined over 6,000 children aged 1-21 and found that kids who spent more time watching TV, playing video games or using computers and drank milk less than once a week were more likely to have lower levels of vitamin D.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies, children and adolescents get 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day. Babies who are breastfeed can get this nutrient from vitamin D drops.  Your baby’s pediatrician can and should prescribe multivitamin drops containing vitamin D to breastfed babies starting in the first 2 months of life.

Kids can get the right amount of vitamin D by eating foods that are fortified with vitamin D, taking a children’s multivitamin with vitamin D, and by spending some time playing outside in the sunshine (sunlight is a good source of vitamin D).

Kids need more vitamin D

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

You may remember our previous post on the importance of vitamin D.  This essential nutrient helps prevent children from developing certain health issues that could weaken their bones.  This week, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated its guidelines for vitamin D.  The AAP now recommends babies, children and adolescents get 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D. This is double the amount the organization recommended before.

So what does this mean? Just make sure your baby, especially if she is breastfed, is getting her vitamin D drops.  Your baby’s pediatrician can and should prescribe multivitamin drops containing 400 IU of vitamin D to breastfed babies starting in the first few days of life. Also, don’t forget to give your older kids their multivitamins with vitamin D. Talk to your health care provider if you have any questions.

Don’t forget about vitamin D

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

There are many benefits of breastfeeding, and the longer you can do it, the better it is for your baby. Breastfeeding is the best food for most babies during the first year of life.  Breastfeeding helps build a baby’s immune system so that she is better able to protect herself from infections.

While nursing, don’t forget to give your baby her vitamin D drops.  Vitamin D is important for strengthening your baby’s growing bones. It helps prevent her from developing certain health issues that could weaken her bones.  Your baby’s pediatrician can and should prescribe multivitamin drops containing vitamin D to breastfed babies starting in the first 2 months of life.

Breastmilk contains lots of important nutrients, but it’s a little low on vitamin D.  That’s because, often, women have little vitamin D in their bodies.  The human body naturally makes vitamin D when exposed to sunlight.   But when I wear sunscreen to protect my body from harmful UV rays or try to avoid lots of sun exposure altogether, it keeps my skin from making vitamin D.

Moms and babies should still wear sunscreen to protect their skin from UV rays.  Just make sure your baby is getting her vitamin D drops along with her breastmilk, and she’ll be just fine.