Monday, January 7, 2008
Gimme a D! (aka the great vitamin D debate)
So vitamin D. What's it for, anyway? Sit back and let me spin you a yarn...
So long ago and in a land very far away, there was once this little disease called rickets. It was not a very pretty disease and it caused kids to have deformities of their bones and a tendency to have easy fractures. Scientists eventually found out that rickets is caused by vitamin D deficiency. You can get vitamin D from both dietary sources and also from the sun (your body converts a chemical into vitmain D upon exposure).
We started giving babies cod liver oil and made them play in the sunshine and POOF, no more rickets (a gross oversimplification, but you get my point). So we didn't see rickets in babies very often for a long time until recently. Why is this?
-people have crappy diets now and very rarely eat anything with vitamin D in it (milk, oily fishes, egg yolks, liver, etc.)
-we spend a lot more time indoors, thereby limiting the sun exposure
-increased amounts of breastfeeding (gasp: there is a drawback to breastfeeding?)
Well, breast milk is the perfect food except for the one tiny fact that it has very little vitamin D in it. So the AAP has recommended giving vitamin D to all exclusively BF infants until approximately 12 months or until they start cow's milk (vitamin A&D fortified).
Things that can increase your risk of vitamin D deficiency:
-dark skinned complexion
-lack of sun exposure
-mothers with low vitamin D diet (check out kellymom.com for more details on this)
(so basically my kid is screwed)
So, in general, exclusively BF babies need their vitamins. If taste is an issue, the kind without the iron tastes a little better. Or there's always cod liver oil.