TORONTO – A Canadian study has confirmed that 400 international units of vitamin D each day is sufficient to ensure an infant’s health.
Vitamin D is needed for healthy bones, and it’s crucial that babies get enough during the first twelve months of life when bones are growing rapidly.
But recommendations about how much of the “sunshine vitamin” is needed to prevent rickets in infants vary widely around the world.
Health Canada recommends giving infants a supplement of 400 IUs daily, while the Canadian Paediatric Society advises raising that to 800 IUs during the winter.
But a McGill University study of 132 infants randomly chosen to receive different doses of vitamin D has found that 400 IUs is adequate and higher doses make no difference to bone health.
The study led by Prof. Hope Weiler is published in this week’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“There’s sometimes a feeling that more is better,” Weiler said. “But until now, no one had compared the popularly recommended daily doses of vitamin D to see what will result in optimal health for infants, so we were very glad to be able to do this.”
Vitamin D is called the “sunshine vitamin” because the body produces the nutrient through the skin when exposed to sufficient sunlight, primarily from May through September when the sun’s UV rays are strongest.