It stands to reason that if a breast-feeding mom is vitamin D deficient, her milk will also be vitamin D deficient, which explains why rickets and Vit D deficiency are so common in the US. However, if you don't want to supplement your baby with vitamin D (looking at the ingredients on the label made me shudder-- artificial flavoring and sweeteners among them), the best way to make sure he's getting vitamin D (in the form his body can best use, too!) is by making sure YOU have enough Vit D! Yep-- you elevate your vitamin D levels enough, and your breast milk will become a perfect source of all the vitamin D your baby needs. (Ideally, you'd be making sure your vit D levels were adequate throughout pregnancy so when baby comes you aren't starting from square 1.)
How much does a nursing mom need to have daily? According to this article from the Council on Vitamin D, about 6000 IU (50 ng/mL). That's a lot-- far higher than the recommended "400 IU." How can you get that? Well, you can partly get it from the sun: if you are light-skinned, at least 3 20-minute sessions of full sunlight on most of your body (ie in a swimsuit or sleeveless top & shorts)-- just enough to get your skin to the slightest flush of pink. The goal is NOT to burn. This article includes a fun little calculator, as well as an interesting connection between preterm birth and vitamin D (could be why minorities in the US have such alarmingly higher rates of preterm birth? They have darker skin, and so need more time in the sun to get the same amount of vitamin D?) Quote from that article:
"If you want to get out in the sun to maximize your vitamin D production, and minimize your risk of malignant melanoma, the middle of the day is the best and safest time to go. You just need to be very careful about the length of your exposure. Remember you only need enough exposure to have your skin turn the lightest shade of pink. This may only be a few minutes for some. Once you reach this point your body will not make any additional vitamin D and any additional exposure will only cause harm and damage to your skin."The best source of whole-food vitamin D is fermented cod liver oil, best taken along with butter oil. When taken together, far fewer IUs are needed to maintain adequate vitamin D blood levels. Taken alone, 1 teaspoon of fermented cod liver oil gives ~1950 IU of vit D. I personally can't stand the taste of cod liver oil, so I recommend capsules or the gels, which Eowyn thinks are a treat. Read up on CLO & recommended brands here.
If you are a pregnant or nursing mother, please read the linked-to articles and spend some time trying to decide how to ensure that your milk contains adequate levels of vitamin D! Again, this article from the Council on Vitamin D recommends:
If you're worried about toxicity, read this article-- getting vitamin D from natural (whole food or sunshine) sources means far FAR less possibility of getting toxic levels of vitamin A or D. At the very least, head over to the health food store and get some 1000 IU vitamin D3 softgel capsules-- they are made from radiated wool oil, but it's still better than nothing-- you'd need to take 6 per day to get the 6000 IU maintenance dose, or 10/day to start out from nothing.
- Take a loading dose of 10,000 IU/day for a month.
- After one month on 10,000 IU/day, stop supplementing your infant with vitamin D as your breast milk should now be filled with vitamin D.
- Take 6,000 IU/day maintenance dose thereafter, except on days you get full body sun exposure.
My strategy? It's hard to know how much I'm getting without doing some calculations my new-mom-brain can't handle, so here's my "hoping 'tis enough strateg." :) I didn't arrive at it by any precise science by any means, hah. Since it's summer, daily I take: 2 capsules each of fermented CLO & butter oil (in winter I'd take 5-10 of each), 4 each JuicePlus fruit chews & veggie chews (these are basically dehydrated fruits & veggies) and 2 softgels of 1000 IU D3. Once my babies are 4 months old (so still breastfeeding), we also start giving them 1/4 teaspoon of unflavored fermented CLO (it's super-good for their eye & brain development, especially linked to high verbal abilities, as well as stronger immune systems). I drink raw milk, eat raw milk cheese and plenty of fatty fish, and stock up on spring butter when it's sold. I'm very big on lots of time outside, building up a base tan by going out daily in the spring, yes, without sunscreen (I know I'm going majorly against the flow there... but that's another blogpost =D), and clothing on my babies while outside is pretty minimal.