Nutrition • Apr 01, 2011

The ABC’s of Vitamin D

 Do you know that all infants need vitamin D supplements, regardless if they are formula or breast fed? In fact, vitamin D is the only supplement a healthy newborn needs.  This recommendation is from the American Academy of Pediatrics and essentially universally accepted by pediatricians. Comprehensive research has revealed vitamin D deficiencies in many Americans, including infants.

Many parents don’t like the idea of giving any supplements to their newborns.  Nature’s system should be perfect, right?  Isn’t breast milk or formula a perfect and complete food for babies?  Well, almost…

Infants at greatest risk for vitamin D deficiency include those who are breastfed, born in the winter, or have a darker skin tone. This is because vitamin D is converted to a form our bodies can use by the sun, through our skin. Breast milk contains the form of vitamin D that must be converted by the sun in order to be used by our bodies. The problem is that sunscreens and clothing limit the ability of the body to convert vitamin D into a usable form.  Older infants may need other supplements, such as iron, if recommended by a pediatrician. Breastfeeding mothers should also consider taking a vitamin D supplement and/or watch their vitamin D intake carefully.

There are several new forms of infant vitamin D supplements that are now available over-the-counter. One product is called D-Vi-Sol. Unlike traditional infant vitamins, these products contain only vitamin D, which is the only supplement that a newborn needs. It is odorless and tasteless. Breastfed infants need 1 milliliter; formula fed infants need one-half milliliter. The recommended intake of vitamin D is 400 IU per day. 

Vitamin D is important for healthy bones and a strong immune system. Infants that don’t get enough vitamin D can get rickets, which is a bone disorder.  They are also at higher risk for infection and broken boones. 

What are you concerns about giving your infant vitamin D? Do you have trouble actually giving it? Are you concerned about safety? Can you find the product in stores? Has your pediatrician talked to you about this?


  1. How long should you give the vitamin D drops to your infant? Also, can I skip giving him the vitamin on days I take him outside?

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