Vitamin D is a nutrient that is not only important for bone density but also appears to reduce body fat and increase muscle mass in children.
A new study found that giving babies a healthy intake of vitamin D in the form of vitamin D-3 appears to set up leaner body composition as toddlers.
Professor Hope Weiler, one of the authors of this study, said:
“We were very intrigued by the higher lean mass, the possibility that vitamin D can help infants to not only grow healthy skeletons but also healthy amounts of muscle and less fat.”
The study shows for the first time the importance of vitamin D for muscle mass improvement during a baby’s first few years.
In this study, babies from 1 month to 12 months old were given a vitamin D3 supplement at one of four different dosages.
The doses were 400, 800, 1200, or 1600 IU a day.
Supplementation of 400 IU/day during a baby’s first year showed the strongest bone development.
In terms of bone development a higher dosage of vitamin D3 did not offer any extra advantage.
But during the body scans researchers noticed that children with less body fat had higher vitamin D levels over the first 3 years of life.
The other way of getting vitamin D is exposure to sunlight but vitamin D deficiency among people living in regions with short daylight hours during winter is common.
People with darker skin are also at the risk of vitamin D deficiency.
Therefore, experts advise a routine vitamin D supplementation for babies until they can get enough in their diet.
The study was published in Pediatric Obesity (Hazell et al., 2016).
Baby image from Shutterstock