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Vitamin D supplements in higher doses risky for infants

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Thursday, June 17, 2010, 20:31 This news item was posted in Consumer, health category and has 0 Comments so far.

Vitamin D supplement can be dangerous for infants if given in higher doses than required quantity.

Supplements containing vitamin D are usually given to kids to promote calcium absorption in the gut. Vitamin D also plays a key role in the development of strong bones.

Vitamin D supplements are recommended for some infants—especially those that are breast-fed—because deficiency of this vitamin can lead to bone problems such as thinning, soft, and misshaped bones, as is seen with the condition known as rickets.

However, excessive vitamin D can cause nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, excessive thirst, frequent urination, constipation, abdominal pain, muscle weakness, muscle and joint aches, confusion, and fatigue, as well as more serious consequences like kidney damage in infants.

Some liquid vitamin D supplement products on the market come with droppers that could allow parents and caregivers to accidentally give harmful amounts of the vitamin to an infant.

These droppers can hold a greater amount of liquid vitamin D than an infant should receive, according to a new warning alerting potential risks of higher dose of vitamin D in infants issued by the Food and Drug Administration.

“It is important that infants not get more than the recommended daily amount of vitamin D,” says Linda M. Katz, M.D., M.P.H., interim chief medical officer in FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

Parents and caregivers should only use the dropper that comes with the vitamin D supplement purchased.

Parents should also ensure that infant does not receive more than 400 international units (IUs) of vitamin D a day, which is the daily dose of vitamin D supplement that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends for breast-fed and partially breast-fed infants.

Vitamin D supplement product should always be kept with its original package so that  caregivers can follow the instructions. Instructions should be followed carefully so that the dropper is used correctly and ensure the right dose.

Only that dropper which comes with the product shall be used. The dropper is manufactured specifically for that product. And never use a dropper from another product.

Caregivers should also ensure the dropper is marked so that the units of measure are clear and easy to understand. Also make sure that the units of measure correspond to those mentioned in the instructions.

If there is any doubt regarding clearly determining the dose of vitamin D delivered by the dropper, a health care professional should be consulted before giving the supplement to the infant.

If the infant is being fully or partially fed with infant formula, pediatrician or other health care professional should be consulted before giving the child vitamin D supplements.

Any type of medication or dietary supplement can have adverse effects and must be taken according to the manufacturer’s directions, US FDA alerts.

Vitamin D — Food Sources

Vitamin D is naturally present in very few foods.Vitamin D is found in many dietary sources such as fish, eggs, fortified milk, and cod liver oil.

The sun also contributes significantly to the daily production of vitamin D, and as little as 10 minutes of exposure is thought to be enough to prevent deficiencies.

The term “vitamin D” refers to several different forms of this vitamin. Two forms are important in humans: ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3).

Vitamin D2 is synthesized by plants. Vitamin D3 is synthesized by humans in the skin when it is exposed to ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays from sunlight. Foods may be fortified with vitamin D2 or D3.

Among popular brands of vitamin D supplements available in Indian market include Alpha D3 (GSK), Redispar (Dr Reddy’s), Arachitol (Solvay), Calcirol (Cadila Pharma).

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