Does a Baby Need Vitamin Supplement Drops?

The idea of a daily dietary requirement is easily understandable. Basically, an individual at a particular age needs to eat a certain amount of some food or nutrient for his needs and keep a slight bit for storage. Additionally, the requirements for infants, children, and teens include what is necessary for growth; and those for pregnant and lactating women have an amount added for what they are sharing with their babies. If everything that a person eats is absorbed, then 100 percent of the nutrient is available and usable. But if half of what she eats is not digested and passes out in the stool (and is thus not bioavailable), then she needs to eat twice the amount recommended in order to absorb an adequate quantity.


Iron’s "availability" is very important. For example, a 7-month old infant should receive 11 milligrams of iron daily--because only a small amount is actually absorbed. Only 4 percent of the iron in commercial formulas actually enters the baby through the intestine. At the usual concentration of 12 milligrams in a quart of formula, 0.5 milligrams of iron is actually absorbed.

Human milk contains an even smaller amount of iron, an average of only 1.4 milligrams per quart. Fortunately, the iron in breastmilk is more available. Roughly 1/2 is absorbed, providing an adequate 0.7 milligrams to the baby. Similarly, zinc appears to have a greater availability in human milk than in other sources and is present in adequate quantities.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is different. While the well-nourished mother can provide most vitamins to her infant, there is little vitamin D in breastmilk, even when the mother is taking a multivitamin. As a result, the American Academy of the Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition suggests 400 International Units (IU) of vitamin D be given daily. I actually recommend more, unless the mother is supplementing with 2000 IU daily which provides the same benefit.

In Japan, babies receiving 2000 IU had less risk of developing diabetes for 30 years. There's lots of other benefits that Vitamin D seems to have according to new research, so I instead follow the recommendations of the Endocrine Society where the allowance of Vitamin D for infants is up to 1000 IU daily and the Upper limit is set at 2000 IU. (I set my recommendation at 1200, but lower this for families who have a history of kidney stones).


Fluoride supplementation is not recommended for any babies under 6 months old. Babies older than 6 months only require supplementation if they live in an area where the drinking water contains less than 0.3 parts per million of fluoride.

Dr. Stan Cohen 13 May 2015

Dr. Stan Cohen is one of our founders and our CEO as well as the Chairman of our Medical Advisory Board. Dr. Stan is an internationally recognized expert in pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition. He is a Read More

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