Babies, Breastfeeding, and Vitamin D

Babies, Breastfeeding, and Vitamin D

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Does a breastfed newborn really need a vitamin D supplement? A new study says so, but others say, "not so fast." First of all, this is a whole family issue, not an issue of breast milk being "vitamin D deficient." Everyone in the family needs vitamin D, and if the adults take it, a breastfed baby will reap the benefits, too. Here's how it works... Like most nutrients (and toxins), what mother does gets passed to baby, including hormones (like vitamin D, which is a hormone, not really a vitamin). Breastfeeding is, in fact, a form of hormone transfer from mother to child — which is precisely why humans should not be drinking cow's milk, by the way; it's a hormone transfer intended for calves, not humans. Even if the cow is organic, grass fed, etc., all dairy still contains naturally occurring cow hormones. Yuck... Where were we? Oh yes, vitamin D and mothers... So, in a nutshell, if mother is getting enough vitamin D — whether through a supplement, sunlight, or B-Flax-D — baby will get some, too through the natural, hormone transfer of breastfeeding. Now, if the mother is deficient in vitamin D, either mother or baby (or both) need to take action. But how much is enough? The Vitamin D Council says:
  • If you take a supplement of 6,000 IU of vitamin D each day you shouldn’t need to give your baby any vitamin D supplement. Your breast milk has enough vitamin D for your baby.
  • If you aren’t taking a supplement or getting a good amount of sun exposure, or if you’re taking less than 5,000 IU/day of vitamin D, you should give your baby a vitamin D supplement (1,000 to 2,000 IU per day is advised by the Vitamin D Council).
But wait a second... what ever happened to sun exposure? Haven't mothers breastfed their babies outdoors throughout time? There are some conflicting opinions about that, too. Both the American Association of Pediatricians and the FDA recommend that babies younger than 6 months get absolutely no sun exposure... huh? Now, these recommendations may be in place to prevent people from going overboard — which we can understand. A baby's tender, new skin absorbs sunlight a lot faster than an adult's. The good news is, this means that you can give your baby an adequate amount of vitamin D through sun exposure in a very short time period. Katherine Barber, an independent health consultant and President of the Chicago Chapter of the African American Breastfeeding Alliance suggests..
"To make enough vitamin D, a baby in a diaper needs a total of only 30 minutes of sunlight a week-less than five minutes a day. "Fully clothed and without a hat, a baby would need two hours of sunlight a week, or about 20 minutes a day. Medium to darker skin tones need a little more time in the sun."
One trip around the block in the stroller is all it would take — and mom gets exercise, too! But remember... darker skinned individuals need more sunlight than those with lighter skin. If you want to be exact about it, a blood test is really the only way to tell how much vitamin D you really need. How much vitamin D do you get each day? Scroll down below the related articles to comment!

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