Study: Vitamin D supplements important for baby but optimal daily dose in question

NEW YORK — A study in the May issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association released Tuesday found that vitamin D supplementation may be important for breast-feeding moms. 

“Vitamin D is important during periods of rapid bone mineral accrual. Nursing infants are susceptible to vitamin D deficiency because vitamin D in breast milk is limited,” according to background information in the article. The report recommended vitamin D supplementation with at least 400 International Units per day, but cautioned against supplementing with amounts as high as 1,600 IUs per day. 

The trial included 132 one-month-old healthy, term, breastfed infants. Researchers found that the percentage of infants achieving a primary vitamin D level differed at three months by group — for those taking 400 IUs per day, 55% achieved optimal vitamin D levels (defined as 75 nanomoles per liter of plasma); for 800 IUs per day, 81%; for 1,200 IUs per day, 92%; and for 1,600 IUs per day, 100%. 

Bone mineral concentration increased over time for lumbar spine, femur and whole body but did not differ by group.

“Our primary objective was to establish a vitamin D dosage that would support [optimal vitamin D levels] or greater in 97.5% of infants at three months of age. Only the 1,600-IUs per day dosage of vitamin D met this criterion; however, this dosage was discontinued because most infants in that group developed elevated [vitamin D] concentrations that have been associated with hypercalcemia [higher-than-normal level of calcium in the blood],” the authors wrote. “Thus, the primary outcome was not achieved at three months."

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