Vitamin D Prophylaxis
WHAT IS VITAMIN D?
It is a fat soluble vitamin needed for the uptake of calcium. Without Vitamin D the body is unable to resorb calcium. The main part of the bones and teeth are made of calcium. Calcium is also important for proper muscles and heart function. Children have an increased need for vitamin D.
HOW DOES THE BODY GET VITAMIN D?
A Vitamin D precursor is produced through the absorption of sunlight in our skin, which is then converted in vitamin D in the kidneys. The body also absorbs vitamin D via the food we eat.
WHICH FOOD CONTAINS VITAMIN D?
Most nutrients contain Vitamin D but by far milk and milk-products contain the most vitamin D per 100 mg.
WHY IS VITAMIN D IMPORTANT FOR THE NEWBORN?
Newborns have an increased need for vitamin D. Breast milk contains less vitamin D than cow’s milk. But breast milk has components which are important for the baby’s immune system and breast milk feed infants have a decreased incidence of allergies in later life. Because of these reasons it is recommended to breast feed babies for at least 6 months if possible for 12 months. To compensate the lack of enough vitamin D in breast milk it is recommended to give all newborns vitamin D for 12 months. Since vitamin D is so important for newborns this recommendation is in place for every child no matter if the child receives cow’s milk based formula or is breast fed.
WHAT HAPPENS IN CASES OF VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY?
Deficiency of vitamin D leads to growth retardation. In case of severe vitamin D insufficiency absorption of calcium is decreased and children develop rickets. In North America and Europe rickets are very rare but it still can be seen in children in underdeveloped countries. The symptoms are growth retardation, deformities of the skeleton such as the skull, long bones and ribs, weaken immune system and easy fracturability.
WHAT IS THE RECOMMENDATION FOR INTAKE?
Starting day 6-8 of life Vitamin D should be given each day for 12 months.