A plant-based diet for babies
Are you one of the ⅓ of Brits who have reduced or stopped their meat-consumption? Here is all you need to know about plant-based weaning.
Vitamin D plays a crucial role in the metabolism of our cells. It is not only important for strong bone growth but also helps strengthening the immune system and enhancing learning and memory by interacting with at least 900 different genes. This explains, why sufficient Vitamin D levels are so important for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers as well as for their babies.
A lot of factors influence the Vitamin D levels in our blood: Babies who were born in the winter or who don’t spend much time outside are at risk for low Vitamin D levels. So are mothers with darker skin types and who wear concealing clothing. The use of sun creams also reduces Vitamin D levels, as do obesity and gestational diabetes.
A breastfeeding mother should have an intake of 10 micrograms (400 units) of Vitamin D per day. This equals 1 serving of (wild) salmon, 2 servings of canned tuna or 10 egg yolks. The main source of Vitamin D is UVB exposure. The required sunlight exposure for breastfeeding mothers is 2 hours if only the face is exposed or 30 minutes if face, arms and neck are exposed.
The easiest option to guarantee adequate Vitamin D levels is for mother and baby to take a supplement. Breastfed babies should get a supplementary 8.5 to 10 microgram (340 to 400 units) of Vitamin D per day. This equals one drop per day of an infant supplement. Infant formula is enriched with Vitamin D and as long as a baby drinks more than 500 ml of formula per day, she or he does not need to take an extra supplement.
It is also possible for a breastfeeding mother to increase her own Vitamin D levels so that she can pass on enough Vitamin D to her baby. In this case, her daily recommended intake goes up to 1000 to 1500 microgram (4000 to 6000 units) per day. This is 10-fold of what a typical breastfeeding supplement contains.
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