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Why Breastfeeding Moms Should Supplement With Vitamin D, According To Research *

Clearly, the significance of vitamin D during pregnancy is pretty well established–and now, new research confirms the importance of the sunshine vitamin (and supplementing with it) during lactation (or breastfeeding), too.

A recent scientific review published in Advances in Nutrition analyzed 19 clinical trials to determine the effect of maternal vitamin D supplementation on the mother’s and infant’s vitamin D status during lactation. What they found: Babies who were exclusively breastfed (which means they received no other form of nutrition or supplementation) had improved vitamin D status when their mother supplemented with the fat-soluble nutrient herself.*

“A [vitamin D-] deficient mom leads to a deficient baby,” says Carol Wagner, M.D., co-author of the review and professor at the Medical University of South Carolina. Not only does deficiency affect bone development in the baby, but it is particularly critical for their developing immune system, as well, she notes.*

And though Wagner says that “there’s been a reluctance by the medical professions to embrace maternal vitamin D supplementation during lactation,” she hopes this review will be a step toward changing medical opinion about how infants’ vitamin D status can be directly and easily supported.*

One particularly interesting takeaway from the research to date: Higher doses of vitamin D than traditionally utilized are most helpful in remedying vitamin D deficiency in lactating moms and breastfed infants, according to the researchers and collective science.* In fact, after evaluating the various trials in the review, the scientists and doctors concluded that a mother supplementing with more than 6,000 I.U. of vitamin D3 per day effectively corrected deficiency in both herself and her child.* To really drive home this takeaway, Wagner and the other researchers organized the outcomes of the studies they included in order to clearly demonstrate the incremental impact of higher doses of vitamin D.*

Commenting on this seminal research publication and the decades of work by Wagner and others, mbg’s director of scientific affairs Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN, concludes that, “This evidence-based need for vitamin D supplementation at 6,000 I.U.-plus per day demonstrated by the totality of clinical trial evidence is of paramount importance for women of childbearing age and pregnant women alike. And the need for this nutrient extends to us all actually. As a nation, our diets are wholly inadequate in vitamin D, and the case for a daily supplement at a clinically useful dose is incredibly clear.”*

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