Monday, March 16, 2009

Vitamin D Me, Baby...

...or: Hello, Spring!

I know that we are not quite there yet, but yesterday's Long Explore sure made me feel better about the weather. Finn and I met a friend of mine for a neighborhood excursion, and it was in the low 60's. It was gorgeous. Of course, spring in Minnesota is a coy mistress, and it could well snow some more on us, but I'll take the thaw.

You take the good with the bad: I only had to wear a sweater, and Finn was in his lightweight fleece snowsuit, but the neighborhood smells like dog poo. Plus, you can tell where the smokers live. Did you know that cigarette butts are not trash? Apparently not.

(Note to self: clean up dog poo from future dog as it happens, not all in one go on March 15. If I can have my taxes done in February, I can do this.)

We are now coming into a time that is very precious to those who live in northern climes: the time when we no longer need to worry about rickets.

Rickets?

Isn't that one of those old-timey sounding diseases like scurvy, that only standing armies in colonial times got from poor provisions? Nope. Rickets is Vitamin D deficiency.

(Begin ironic sarcasm) Nowadays, we usually reserve such things for poor people in bad neighborhoods (end ironic sarcasm).

Now that it is warmer, we can expose skin to sun without fear of it freezing and breaking off, and that includes FinnFinns.

At Finn's last pediatrician appointment, she asked about supplements, and I had to confess that I am no longer giving him any, and have not for some time. To my surprise, so did not comment on the lack of iron, she commented on the lack of Vitamin D. I have been supplementing myself to get that extra bit into the boob and into the boy, but it was not until this past week that she told me that I need to have at least 4,000 IU's per day for that to work.

This is information I feel would have been helpful back in August of 2008 when I first asked about this.

See, I had done this wacky thing where I read the label on my Vitamin D and chose one with a mid-range dosage that did not slap me upside the head with seven thousand times the recommended daily allowance. Because More Vitamin does not necessarily equal better.

Breast fed babies in northern climes who do not receive much sunlight can be at risk for Vitamin D deficiency, but even so, it seems that babies rarely need supplementation. Again, as with iron, the Vitamin D count in breast milk is small, but it's easily absorbed. And if you and baby are getting outside enough, it's probably not going to be a problem. Two hours is the required weekly amount if only the face is exposed or, about 17 minutes a day. The more skin you expose, the shorter the amount of time. Because the body stores Vitamin D, you don't necessarily need to get sunshine on your shoulders every single day.

(That's the new backpack. More on that later.)

Before you start harping about skin cancer and sunscreen, read on. Babies and grown ups don't need to be burning themselves to a crisp to get their Vitamin D. Because the body stores it, and you don't need that much time, you won't be putting yourself at risk if you are sensible (which is really good advice for anything. Moderate and be sensible). Just have the sunscreen handy if you are going to be out for a long time. And when you buy the sunscreen, make sure it's safe. (Here's a general post on bad things in cosmetics.) According to Dr. Alan Greene, when it comes to sunscreen, many of the chemicals used are "estrogen-like," which seems bizarre, and those estrogenic active ingredients show up in the blood. It does not seem to have a hormonal effect on adults, but there's no research on how it affects the babes or kids. Because babies have 3 times the relative surface area of an adult, and their skin is more absorptive, chemical concentrations in babies are probably much higher.

Stay away from nanoparticles, which quickly permeate the skin. Try a natural mineral sunscreen. These sunscreens use a physical block such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide to keep out the UV rays. I just bought some Baby Avalon Sunscreen for the boy. We'll give that a try if he's out more than the recommended time dosage of sun.

Like today. It's 65 degrees. I just went out and ran errands in a short-sleeved shirt and no jacket, looking for organic seed starting mix.

It's just around the corner, people.

1 comment:

susan said...

This was a lot more fun to read than the -5 below thing the other day!--Vitamin D, very interesting! I have been reading a lot lately about it for adults--not babies or children-- as my Dr. said I must take at least 1,000 mgs a day to help with calcium absorbtion so I researched and found the new studies say we adults in the north need more and our bodies don't store it like vitamin A. ? That's all I found--like what do we do with it?? Anyway seeds waiting to be planted--yea!! Cool backpack! XXXOOO