Vitamin D For Breastfeeding Mothers – Everything You Need to Know

6 min read

Written by Aparna Hari

Aparna Hari

Her experience in impactful writing combined with her background in Home Sciences makes Aparna the perfect candidate for content writing in the pregnancy and parenting niche.

Vitamin D For Breastfeeding Mothers

Breastmilk is a rich source of all the necessary nutrients that your baby needs during the first 6 months. But, if the breastfeeding mother lacks a specific nutrient or suffers from malnutrition, then the child also grows with the same deficiencies. This eventually results in underdeveloped physical or mental conditions. Vitamin D is one such nutrient needed for the baby in huge quantities just from the beginning. But the breastmilk often cannot supply it enough. This article takes you through the necessity of Vitamin D for breastfeeding mothers and how much they need it.

Our body largely depends on sunlight for the absorption of vitamin D. If you belong to the region between the Equator, the tropic of Cancer, and the tropic of Capricorn then you are not likely to have vitamin D deficiency. But people living in cold regions or people who do not go out much in sun can have this problem. Your little one needs vitamin D to develop strong bones and teeth. This article can help you on getting an idea about the importance of vitamin D, and the amount of it you need while breastfeeding.

In This Article

What is Vitamin D?

According to the Harvard school of public health, Vitamin D is both a nutrient we consume and a hormone our bodies produce. This vitamin is necessary for our body to absorb and retain phosphorus and calcium. So in this way vitamin D helps our bones to form and get stronger. Vitamin D has also a significant role in reducing infections, and inflammations.

Sunrays are the source of vitamin D for our skin. A mere 10 to 15 minutes of exposure to sun rays is sufficient to meet the daily vitamin D requirements for people. But, as strong sunlight can potentially cause sunburns, people tend to avoid it specifically for their babies. In that case, vitamin D supplements come to the rescue.

Signs of  Vitamin D Deficiency in Breastfeeding Mothers

Signs of  Vitamin D Deficiency

The signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency remain hidden for a long time. The symptoms of vitamin D deficiency in babies are bone pain, muscle weakness, and rickets. Rickets leads to fragile bones and bone deformities in children. Hence, a breastfeeding mother needs to get a sufficient amount of Vitamin D.

The deficiency of Vitamin D in you, can pass on to your baby leading to many problems later in their lives. If you experience problems like pain in bone joints, back pain, muscle pain, hair loss, or tiredness then you may be suffering from vitamin D deficiency.

Osteoporosis or lack of bone density is a disease that occurs in adults due to Vitamin D deficiency. Ensure to get an appointment with your doctor if you experience the above symptoms.

Top Benefits of Adequate Vitamin D Intake For Breastfeeding Mothers

Benefits of Vitamin D For Breastfeeding Mothers

Try to get enough amount of Vitamin D that can make you and your little one stay away from the effects of it’s deficiency. Here are a few benefits of vitamin D while breastfeeding.

  • It helps the body absorb vital nutrients like calcium and phosphorus.
  • Helps in balancing blood calcium level.
  • It protects the bones and teeth from decaying.
  • Vitamin D ensures normal muscle functioning.
  • It helps maintain healthy bones in babies.

Women of age between 14 to 50 years require around 600 IU of vitamin D. A pregnant or breastfeeding woman also requires the same amount of vitamin D regularly. You will be surprised to know that your little munchkin also requires no less vitamin D than you.

From very birth till their first year, your baby will require 400 IU of Vitamin D. So, as a Breastfeeding mother you will have to get more than your vitamin D requirements to meet your baby’s requirements.

Still it may not be enough because, 1-litre breastmilk contains roughly 25 IU of vitamin D and your infant requires 400 IU per day.

According to the studies of the Grassroots Health Nutrient Research Institute, to provide 400 IU of vitamin D per day solely through breastmilk the mother is required to have 6,400 IU of vitamin D per day. Thus taking supplements is the only way out to fulfil the requirements, as the dietary sources of vitamin D are very limited.

Top 5 Dietary Sources of Vitamin D

Dietary Sources of Vitamin D

Besides taking a sunbath you can get vitamin D from a few foods such as

1. Eggs

Eggs are an excellent source of vitamin D. A single egg can provide 40 IU of vitamin D. You must have one egg daily and after your baby crosses 6 months you can provide 1/3 of an egg to your baby too.

2. Salmon fish

This fish is full of vitamin D. Mere 3 oz of cooked salmon fish contains 440 IU.

3. Mackerel fish

3 oz of cooked mackerel fish has 330 IU.

4. Cod liver oil

A single tablespoon of cod liver oil can provide 1360 IU of vitamin D

5. Other Foods

Few more foods that offer good amount of Vitamin D are

  • Yoghurt
  • Fortified milk
  • Margarine
  • Oranges
  • Cereals

So by taking these foods into your daily diet you can increase your vitamin D levels. And your baby will get it from your breast milk.

Can You Take Vitamin D Supplements During Breastfeeding?

women having medicine in hand

People who live in cold regions do not get enough sun exposure and are prone to vitamin D deficiency. On the other hand, eating fatty fish like salmon or mackerel daily for vitamin D is not good for health. In such situations, you should consider taking supplements.

Studies show that there was a significant increase in vitamin D levels in breastfeeding babies when the mother is on supplements. But you must take your doctor’s advice and take only the prescribed doses of vitamin D supplements.

You can even give vitamin D supplements to your baby directly. As per the AAP 2008 guidelines, even doctors now suggest providing babies with vitamin D supplements as only breastmilk is not enough to meet the daily requirements.

You can put the liquid on the tongue of your baby with the help of a dropper. If that doesn’t help then you can mix it with some of your pumped breastmilk and let your baby drink it. Various vitamin D supplements taste different. So you can try different brands if your baby is not liking the taste of a particular brand’s supplements.

Are There Any Side Effects of Excessive Intake of Vitamin D?

Though vitamin D is very important for our body, an excessive amount of it can be harmful. This condition is called Hypervitaminosis D. The side effects of excessive vitamin D in your body are:

  • Hypercalcemia or the building up of calcium in the blood
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Frequent urination
  • Calcium stones in kidney or kidney stones
  • Bone pain
  • Weakness

The problem of excessive vitamin D occurs when you take vitamin D supplements beyond your prescribed limits. It cannot occur due to excessive sun exposure. To cure Hypervitaminosis D, your doctor then will stop the vitamin D supplements and restrict your dietary calcium.

So, taking prescribed vitamin D supplements while breastfeeding is the best way you can protect your baby from vitamin D deficiency. A well balanced diet can also help you attain the right amount of Vitamin D. However, it is better to get an appointment with your doctor if you are too concerned. Talk to your them to understand the importance of Vitamin D during breastfeeding.

FAQ’s

1. When Should Breastfeeding Mothers Take Vitamin D, Morning or Night?

There is no particular time for taking vitamin D supplements. Some moms complain of insomnia after taking vitamin D at night. So you can take it during day time or let your doctor decide the time.

2. Does Breastfeeding Cause Vitamin D Deficiency in Breastfeeding Mothers?

Yes, if you are not taking vitamin D supplements and not going out in the sun much during your breastfeeding journey, then it can cause vitamin D deficiency in your body. As some amount of your body’s vitamin D is getting extracted through the breastmilk, you need to constantly fill up the gap.

3. Does Vitamin D Affect Sleep?

Vitamin D deficiency can hamper your sleep. It can affect your sleep indirectly by causing back pain, bone pain, and muscle cramps. On the other hand, taking vitamin D at night can also cause insomnia in some people.

Read Also: Healthy Diet For Breastfeeding Mothers

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Aparna Hari,MBA in Marketing,P.G. Diploma in Human Resource Management from IGNOU Bachelor of Sciences (Home Science) from Nagarjuna University

Her experience in impactful writing combined with her background in Home Sciences makes Aparna the perfect candidate for content writing in the pregnancy and parenting niche.Read more.

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