Making informed decisions about how to feed your baby and gathering knowledge about the vitamins your baby needs -- especially how to get them and possible deficiencies -- is important. Vitamin B-12, a nutrient that helps keep blood cells and the nervous system healthy, and vitamin D, which promotes healthy bone development, need to be in your baby's diet. Depending on what he eats and whether he spends time outdoors, you might need to increase your baby's intake. Consultation with your pediatrician about what foods your baby should eat at what age is an vital step in planning his diet.
Recommended Amounts of Vitamins B-12 and D
Babies need only a small daily amount of B-12 in their diet. For the first six months, they need 0.4 micrograms, and then 0.5 micrograms until their first birthday. Babies need 400 international units a day of vitamin D from birth until adulthood, according to the National Institutes of Health. Supplements are available if babies do not get the vitamins they need from their diets and from daily exposure to the sun, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Importance of Vitamins B-12 and D
Vitamin B-12 helps the body make DNA, keeps blood and nerve cells healthy, keeps the brain working properly and helps process food. A lack of B-12 can make your baby tired and constipated and can cause weight loss. Infants can display signs of a failure to thrive and have trouble reaching normal developmental milestones. A lack of vitamin D in newborns increases the risk of rickets and of developing brittle bones and respiratory infections later in life.
Common Reasons for Deficiency
B-12 is only found in foods from animals unless it is added as a supplement. If your baby does not eat any animal-based products, she might not get the B-12 she needs. Vitamin D is found in few foods, and is minimally present in breast milk, but sunlight is an important source of this vitamin. Babies who breastfeed exclusively are at particular risk for a vitamin D deficiency if they do not get enough routine sunlight. Babies who have skin with dark pigmentation are also at risk because they need more sunlight to get enough vitamin D, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Recommended Foods with Vitamins B-12 and D
Foods commonly fed to babies that are high in vitamin B-12 include red meat and poultry. Commercially produced baby foods in jars often feature these foods and commonly include a vegetable, starch or grain in the mix. Look for chicken, turkey or roast beef dinners at the stage that corresponds to your baby's age. You can make your own at home by blending these foods in a food processor until they have the consistency of mashed potatoes. Baby cereals are fortified with vitamin B-12 and D and represent an early and common food for babies to get their daily allowance. Vitamin D sources also include fatty fish such as salmon or tuna and dairy products like milk and yogurt.
- National Institute of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin B12
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Vitamin D Supplementation
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Vitamin D Supplementation To Prevent Rickets in Breast-Fed Babies
- United States Department of Agriculture: Improved Vitamin B12 Test May Help Young and Old Alike
- Harvard Gazette: Newborns' Need for Vitamin D
- Harvard School of Public Health: Vitamin D and Health
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)
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