Almost everyone is aware that breast-fed babies have to receive a supplement in the form of vitamin D3 drops. But as a mother, you can also take additional vitamin D3. Paediatric research has revealed that, when a sufficiently high dose is given, this has the same effect on the baby.
Three hundred and thirty-four pairs of mothers and babies participated in the randomised clinical study. In one group, the baby was given 10 mcg of vitamin D3 a day and the mother was given nothing. In another group, the baby was given nothing and the mother 160 mcg a day. Ultimately, the vitamin D3 blood serum levels in the babies were found not to differ from one another. It is therefore clear that giving the mother a supplement of 160 mcg of vitamin D3 ensures that the baby has adequate blood serum levels. This high dose was also found to increase the vitamin D3 level safely and significantly in the mother.
“Providing the mother with a supplement of 160 mcg of vitamin D3 a day is a safe way of ensuring a sufficiently high dose of vitamin D in the breast milk to meet the baby’s needs. It therefore offers an alternative to direct supplementation of vitamin D”, said the researchers.
The main advantage is that the vitamin D3 status in both the mother and the baby is dealt with at the same time. It also offers a solution if the baby refuses to take the drops or eat food fortified with vitamin D3, for example as a result of an allergy. In addition there is a case for passing on sufficient vitamin D3 through breastfeeding being the natural situation. That is also argued by John Cannell, doctor and founder of the Vitamin D Council (US). “The question is how much sunlight or vitamin D is needed each day to ensure that human breast milk is a good source for the baby’s development. If 160 mcg is required, shouldn’t that also be the recommended amount for women who breast feed?”
As far as the recommendations in the Netherlands are concerned, at 7.5 mcg a day, the RDA for pregnant women is much too low to enable sufficient vitamin D3 to be passed on through breastfeeding. At 10 mcg a day, the Supplementation Advice issued by the Health Council also falls short of that.
1.Hollis BW1, Wagner CL, Howard CR, Ebeling M, Shary JR, Smith PG, Taylor SN, Morella K, Lawrence RA, Hulsey TC, Maternal Versus Infant Vitamin D Supplementation During Lactation: A Randomized Controlled Trial, Pediatrics. 2015 Oct;136(4):625-34.
2.Cannell J., https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/blog/study-shows-breastfeeding-women-need-6400-iuday-to-maintain-infants-vitamin-d-levels/, October 12, 2015.