Some pediatricians often recommend vitamin D
supplements to be given to babies. Now, here arises an important question-how
much vitamin D should be given to the baby? Prof. Hope Weiler from the
School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition at McGill University along with Dr.
Celia Rodd of McGill's Department of Pediatrics
conducted a study to
evaluate the actual amount of vitamin D needed for proper development of bones
in young babies.
The researchers advocated that a daily dose of about
400IU of vitamin D should be given to the infants for maintaining proper growth
and development. Prof. Weiler said, "There's sometimes a feeling that more
is better." He added, "But until now, no one had compared the
popularly recommended daily doses of vitamin D to see what will result in
optimal health for infants, so we were very glad to be able to do this."
However, at present the daily vitamin D
requirement differs from place to place. In Finland and France, about 1,000IU of
vitamin D is advised for the infants. Both the World Health Organization and
Health Canada have recommended a daily dose of vitamin D of 400IU for healthy
The research of the Canadian scientists was
recently published in the special child health issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association
The scientists observed that a dose of 400IU is good enough as compared to a
dose of 800IU, 1,200IU or 1,600IU of vitamin D in keeping at bay rickets and
osteomalacia and at the same time strengthening bones in infants.
Prof. Weiler, the co-principal researcher said,
"Right now the dose that we're recommending is the 400 and that's to be
given every day until the baby can achieve that amount from other foods, and
typically we consider that more at one year of age." Vitamin D is called
the sunshine vitamin because most of us can synthesize this crucial vitamin
with the help of sunlight.
The experts enrolled about 132 infants at
Montreal who were haphazardly given one of the four doses of vitamin D-400,
800, 1,200 or 1,600 IUs for 12 months. Most of the babies were breastfed;
however, the proportion lowered when babies were one year old.
The babies' weight, length, head circumference, and the
level of vitamin D in their blood sample were recorded at three months, six
months, nine months and at twelve months. The scientists also analyzed how much
mineral was incorporated in the bones of the infants during the process of
their growth. At three months of administration of vitamin D, it was noticed
that a dose of 400IU was sufficient enough for adequate bone growth.
Dr. Rodd mentioned, "The parents that we
saw in the study were highly motivated and made sure that their babies were
taking the vitamin D on a daily basis."
The researchers finally
concluded that high doses of vitamin D give no extra advantage in strengthening
babies' bones and in providing a healthy skeletal foundation.
The scientists said, "We know very well if you
don't have enough vitamin D that you can develop rickets as a young infant and a
child." Dr. Steven Abrams of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston
mentioned that further research is required to get more reliable
"important dose-response information." The role of higher doses of
vitamin D on the bones of the infants is yet to be clarified.