Respiratory tract infections (RTIs) such as colds, flu, bronchitis, and pneumonia, are the leading cause of death and a major cause of hospitalizations in children under 5 years old. RTIs are especially prevalent and dangerous during the first year of life. A recent post covered the very high incidence of vitamin D deficiency among infants, along with the low rates of compliance in giving babies the recommended daily amount of vitamin D.
Babies’ Immune Systems Need Vitamin D
Many studies have linked vitamin D with the risk of RTIs; with the combination of their immune systems being under-developed and their high risk of vitamin D deficiency, it is especially important to ensure they are receiving enough vitamin D on a daily basis.
A study by Hong et al looked at a group of 2,244 infants to determine whether those receiving vitamin D on a more frequent basis were less likely to be diagnosed with an RTI during the first 6 months of life, compared those receiving supplementation less frequently or not at all. The frequency of breastfeeding, use of infant formula, and supplementation of vitamin D were tracked, along with any pediatrician-diagnosed respiratory related illnesses and hospitalizations. Groups of vitamin D supplementation were defined by the average frequency of vitamin D supplementation (400-600 IU per day) over the follow-up period from birth to the end of the 6 months. Groups were broken down as those receiving vitamin D supplementation 0, 1-2, 3-4, and 5-7 days per week.
As can be seen in the chart below, infants who received supplementation 5-7 days per week were 54% less likely to get an RTI than those who did not receive any supplementation with vitamin D; risk of RTIs went down as the frequency of vitamin D supplementation increased.
Further analyses demonstrated that:
- Risk of any RTI, lower RTI, or RTI related hospitalization was reduced for infants receiving vitamin D supplementation, regardless of whether they were breastfed or formula fed.
- Among infants who were diagnosed with an RTI, those who received any vitamin D supplementation developed their first RTI later than those who did not receive any vitamin D supplementation.
- Infants receiving vitamin D supplementation at least 5 days per week had the best outcomes.
Supplementation is Necessary for a Healthy Immune System in Babies and Children!
As parents, it is our responsibility to supplement our children, or make sure they are taking their supplements as they get older. Testing at least twice a year is also essential as they age, since as they grow, their demand for vitamin D increases and their vitamin D intake must change accordingly. Test your children now to make sure they are getting enough vitamin D for their ongoing health.
Make sure you know theirs and your vitamin D level, and take steps to keep it within a target of 40-60 ng/ml or 100-150 nmol/L! Through GrassrootsHealth Nutrient Research Institute, you can also test your essential elements magnesium, copper, zinc and selenium, toxins such as lead, mercury and cadmium, as well as your omega-3 levels, inflammation levels and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) level. Find out your levels today! Log on to the test selection page (click the link below) to get your tests and see for yourself if your levels can be improved.
Make sure you track your results before and after, about every 6 months!
How can I track my nutrient intake and levels over time?
To help you track your supplement use and nutrient levels, GrassrootsHealth has created the Personal Health Nutrient Decision System called
For each specific supplement, you can track what days you take it, how much, and many other details. This will help you know your true supplemental intake and what patterns of use work for you to reach and maintain optimum nutrient levels. Check it out today!