There has been a lot of publicity recently about the role, use, and requirements of vitamin D. How important is Vitamin D for you and your baby? If you are pregnant, remember that the vitamin D requirement of the foetus in the womb increases in the latter half of the pregnancy during fetal bone growth and ossification. And nature ensures that your baby draws what it needs from your reserve through passive transfer.
After it is born, a new born baby gets its supply from breast milk. The Vitamin D level in the mother’s milk correlates to its level in the mother’s blood serum. Therefore a normal level of maternal vitamin D is critical both during and after pregnancy.
Know more about Vitamin D
Recent studies indicate that Vitamin D influences several endocrine systems. Vitamin D travels from the skin (where it is produced) to target other organs and tissues where it has receptors, playing an important role in bone metabolism. It is also known to modulate immune responses and glucose metabolism.
What is a recommended normal dosage of Vitamin D supplements?
The normal range is listed as a level above 32ng/mL or 75nmol/L.
How to identify differences in dosage ?
Different units of measurement are used to measure Vitamin D—nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) or nanomoles per litre (nmol/L). The units used to indicate vitamin D supplementation also vary—microgram measure and international units (IU). Confusion about the numbers may also arise due to the fact that. deficiency levels are sometimes described as being below 20ng/mL and sometimes as 50nmol/L.
It is important to identify these differences so that you can better understand the numbers listed in articles, in lab reports, on prescriptions and supplement wrappers.
Where can I get my dose of Vitamin D ?
- Dietary source – Very few foods contain substantial amounts of vitamin D, and these—oil-canned tuna, canned sardines, mackerel, catfish, pink salmon, herring, and cod liver—are non-standard fare for most people.
- Other sources – Fortified foods such as milk, soy milk, cereal, and juice (orange) are also inadequate in meeting daily requirements even when prescribed quantities are taken.
Supplemental Vitamin D therefore becomes important if a deficiency is diagnosed. Talk to your doctor to understand your requirement.
Why is my Vitamin D level lower that my friend ?
Vitamin D levels vary among people depending on their gender, age, race, and geography (most importantly latitude). Vitamin D is predominantly obtained by synthesis of fats (cholesterol) in the skin. As the process is catalyzed by sunlight, sun exposure can influence the synthesis of vitamin D.
Practices and factors that reduce production of vitamin D are:
- Sunscreen—An SPF 50 or more in the sunscreen may reduce the risk of skin cancers but block the production of vitamin D.
- Fat Cells—Obese people produce vitamin D less rapidly than people of normal weight.
- Melanin—Darker skinned people (who have more melanocytes in their skin) produce vitamin D slower than people with fairer skin.
- Cultural practices—Some cultures dictate codes of dressing and social etiquette that may restrict or diminish exposure to the sun. Vitamin D deficiency may be more prevalent among such cultures.
- Age—The rate of vitamin D synthesis and turnover decreases with age. However the difference is minimal among populations of reproductive age.
- Latitude—The northern and southern latitudes with their long winters and shorter summers, provide less opportunity for sun exposure, and therefore vitamin D synthesis.
Does my baby need Vitamin D supplements?
It depends on the whether the child is being breast fed or the quantity of vitamin D-fortified formula or milk the baby is drinking. While breast milk is considered the best source of vitamin D for infants, it will not provide the quantities required. And as exposure to the sun is not advisable for babies younger than 6 months, vitamin D supplements are seen as the best way to prevent deficiency. A dose of usually 400 IU of liquid vitamin D is prescribed until a child is weaned or begins to drink 32 oz of vitamin D fortified formula or milk. – Please consult your pediatrician to monitor your baby’s Vitamin D level and prescribe the dosage of supplements required