Vitamin D is synthesized by the sun and is necessary for your baby's healthy development. But his skin, too fragile, cannot be exposed to the sun. It is thus necessary to consider a supplementation.

Should, you, give, vitamin, D, to, your, baby,, and, until, what, age?
Vitamin D supplementation is recommended in France from the first days of life. For good reason, vitamin D :

    ensures the mineralization of bones and teeth during the growth period.
    and allows the assimilation of calcium and phosphorus by the intestines and the organism.

The primary objective of this supplementation is to prevent rickets, a disease of growth and ossification.

Reminder: the body synthesizes vitamin D thanks to the sun

Generally, vitamins are contained in a specific diet. This is the case, for example, of vitamin C found in citrus fruits. But vitamin D can be produced by our body. Its synthesis takes place thanks to an essential element: the sun.

Exposure to a few ultraviolet rays for a quarter of an hour each day is enough to provide you with 100% of your daily vitamin D requirements. 

Do newborns necessarily need vitamin D?

You've probably already taken a vitamin D supplement during your pregnancy, which is necessary for your baby's bones. So it should be extended for some time. Usually this lasts until the child is 18-24 months old.

Why this supplementation? Because toddlers, before 1 or 2 years of age, should not be exposed to the sun because of their fragile skin. As a result, they may lack vitamin D. 

   From your child's 18th month until he or she is five years old, supplementation    continues,but only during the winter months. The same applies to teens between the ages of 10 and 18.

 How much vitamin D should my child get each day?

The prescribed doses vary according to the child's diet (breastfeeding, cow's milk, vitamin D fortified milk, etc.). An update of national recommendations is currently underway. "These will be aligned with the European recommendations, namely :

    400 IU per day from 0 to 18 years of age in healthy children without risk factors,
    and 800 IU per day from 0 to 18 years in children with a risk factor", said the National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety (Anses) in a statement issued on January 27, 2021 (source 1). 

Food supplements, medicines... How do I give vitamin D to my child?

In a notice published on January 27, 2020, the Anses recommends to give priority to medicines over food supplements in order to prevent the risk of overdose.

Parents can turn to vitamin D medications in drop form :

    Adrigyl (1 drop = 333 IU vitamin D3). Other components: butylhydroxytoluene (BHT), saccharin, sorbic acid, lemon essential oil, unsaturated polyglycolysed glycerides.
    Deltius (1 drop = 200 IU of vitamin D3). Other component: refined olive oil
    ZymaD (1 drop = 300 IU vitamin D3). Other components: sweet orange essential oil, refined olive oil for injectable preparations, a mixture of natural tocopherols in alpha, beta, gamma and delta forms. 

"There is also a vitamin D2 specialty, Sterogyl, which is not recommended for first-line use in children," says the Health Security Agency.

Be sure to follow the administration precautions and consult your doctor before changing your medication!

Vitamin D and dietary supplements: what are the risks?

The Anses, the National Agency for the Safety of Medicines (Ansm), the learned societies of pediatrics, the national college of midwives and poison control centers alert on a number of risks related to the use of vitamin D-based food supplements in children:

    A sometimes very high concentration per drop (up to 10,000 IU of vitamin D) associated with the absence of product-specific recommendations for the age of the child;
    A risk of confusion, or even accumulation of doses, if vitamin D-containing products are combined;
    A risk of dosing error when switching from one dietary supplement to another, or when switching from a drug to a dietary supplement;
    The associated presence of other vitamins (especially vitamin K) or calcium in high doses, which increases the risk of hypercalcemia, one of the serious consequences of which can be kidney damage such as lithiasis/nephrocalcinosis (calcium deposition in the kidney).

For all these reasons, the purchase of dietary supplements on the Internet is not recommended, as they may not comply with regulations. For more information, contact your pediatrician.

Are there foods that are high in vitamin D that I can give my baby?

Vitamin D is synthesized primarily through sunlight and ultraviolet rays. However, there are foods that can be used to replenish vitamin D :

    mainly fatty fish such as salmon, trout, tuna, mackerel, anchovies in oil.
    We also think of egg yolk, only if it is raw.
    And it can be eaten in small quantities in certain meats: veal, chicken.

In any case, this type of food does not really concern young children.

What about vitamin D-fortified milk?

The milks your baby drinks, both first and second age, are fortified with vitamin D, but not enough to avoid supplementation.

A breastfed baby should also get more: breast milk contains about 50 units of this vitamin, while the baby needs about 1,000 units a day.

What are the risks for my child if he or she is deficient in vitamin D?

Vitamin D deficiency can be extremely serious and lead to rickets. The absence of vitamin D deficiency is equivalent to insufficient calcium absorption by the bones. Specifically, the bones of the skull may become soft, the bones of the wrists and ankles may become enlarged, 
There is also the presence of a "genu varum", which is a fairly large gap between the knees when the feet touch. However, rickets is extremely rare in France.

Be especially vigilant if you live in an area with little sunlight and if your child has dark skin, because pigmentation filters out ultraviolet rays.

Sources :

(1) Vitamin D in children: use of medication and not dietary supplements to prevent the risk of overdose, Anses, January 27, 2021

(2) Supplementary notice to the Information Point "Vitamin D in children: use of medication and not food supplements to prevent the risk of overdose", Anses, January 27, 2021