Posts Tagged ‘Vitamins’

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.

Vitamins – good or bad?

Friday, October 14th, 2011

pillsYou may have read or heard on the news lately that a couple of recent studies are showing concerns about the health benefits of taking vitamins and supplements. While some vitamins may be questionable, folic acid is very important for all women of childbearing age. It helps to protect developing babies from certain birth defects. So keep taking it.

According to a couple of these new studies, vitamins may not be as beneficial as previously thought. The research suggests that in some instances some vitamins may be harmful as we get older. One study of older women suggests that taking vitamin supplements, including folic acid, may slightly increase a woman’s risk of death after the age of 62. Another study of men states that taking vitamin E supplements may significantly increase the risk of prostate cancer.    HOWEVER, these are single studies and much more research needs to be done before we know how accurate these results may be.

Here is what we do know now. Research has repeatedly demonstrated that all women of childbearing age should take 400 micrograms of folic acid before getting pregnant to help prevent neural tube defects (serious birth defects of the brain and spine). This is especially important since about half of all pregnancies are unplanned. During pregnancy, women should get at least 600 micrograms of folic acid.

If you have any questions about taking vitamins, talk with your health care provider.

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.