Are you a breastfeeding mom? Here's why you might want to take high-dose monthly vitamin D supplements.
You know that vitamin D plays a hugely important role in your pregnancy—studies have shown the vitamin to slash learning disability risk in your children, ward off preeclampsia, and even help make childbirth less painful for you.
But according to a recent study, keeping those vitamin D levels high is just as important after you give birth—especially if you're breastfeeding. According to researchers from New Zealand's University of Otago, when breastfeeding moms take monthly high-dose vitamin D supplements, their babies see an improvement in their vitamin D levels.
While experts recommend exclusively breastfeeding infants for the first six months, babies who are only breastfed are at greater risk for vitamin D deficiency. Infants who don't get enough of the vitamin could develop rickets, which involves softening and weakening of the bones.
To study this topic, researchers enlisted 90 women who planned to exclusively breastfeed. The subjects were split into two groups: One group recieved 1.25mg of vitamin D each month, another received monthly 2.5mg doses. Researchers measured vitamin D levels in the babies at the beginning of the trial and again at the end. They also took into account season of birth, skin color, and whether they were fed supplemented formula when processing these results - and they still found that the infants of mothers who took the highest doses of vitamin D supplements had significantly higher levels of the vitamin.
There's still more work to be done before researchers can determine an exact dosage, but this research could potentially signal a change in the frequency of vitamin D supplement intake, moving new moms to supplement monthly instead of weekly or daily.
“At this dose, the improvement in vitamin D status appears to offer some protection against moderate to severe deficiency in infants, as only one of the babies in the 2.5mg group showed serious deficiency compared to six in the placebo group,” study author Dr. Ben Wheeler said in a news release. “If further research confirms our study’s findings then the next step would be to investigate how the monthly supplementation compares in effectiveness to mothers taking daily or weekly vitamin D doses."