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Hot Topics: Food Sources of Vitamin D

The Importance of Vitamin D for Babies and Toddlers

Learn to recognize a range of vitamin D rich foods, healthy amounts to consume, and how to incorporate them into meals for the whole family.  We’ve pulled together a list of the best vitamin D food sources for you and your baby and some details on how supplements can benefit your little one with the answers to these FAQs.

Why do moms, babies and toddlers need vitamin D?

Vitamin D helps the body to draw and absorb calcium and phosphate from what you eat, then uses it to develop strong bones and improve muscle health. Signs of a vitamin D deficiency can include bone pain, dental deformities, increased fractures, and muscle cramps.

Do I need vitamin D during pregnancy?

Vitamin D supports immune function, healthy cell division, and bone health. Vitamin D is necessary for the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorus. Taking vitamin D during pregnancy invests in the well-being of your baby by supporting healthy bone development. Deficiency with vitamin D is also related to preeclampsia.

Pregnant women should be taking 4,000 IU of vitamin D daily to see the greatest benefits when it comes to preventing preterm labor/births and infections. The average prenatal vitamin contains 400 IU of vitamin D, so additional supplementation should be taken daily.

How much vitamin D do breastfed babies need?

If you’re breastfeeding, your newborn baby’s main source of vitamin D will come from your breast milk. So if you are deficient in Vitamin D, it can cause a vitamin D deficiency in your baby. Naturally, the vitamin D content of breast milk is low (<25 - 78 IU/L)*, which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends using a vitamin D supplement if you’re breastfeeding, as well as giving your baby a daily liquid vitamin D supplement until their diet provides at least 400 IU of vitamin D per day.

*Range of vitamin D levels in breast milk, measured in lactating women taking a daily vitamin D supplement of 400 IU.

How much vitamin D do formula-fed babies need?

Since vitamin D is already added to infant formula, babies who are formula feeding may be getting enough vitamin D. However, a baby will need to drink about 4 bottles of formula per day to get the recommended 400 IU of vitamin D—which is why vitamin D supplements for your baby may be a good choice.

How much vitamin D do toddlers need?

As your little one transitions to toddlerhood and solids become their primary source of nutrition, maintaining a balanced diet will become extra important as every food you offer can help their development. Specifically, children 12 to 24 months old need 600 IU of vitamin D each day. As you likely know, most of the foods high in vitamin D may not be all that appealing to a fussy toddler, so you may want to consider a toddler formula or nutritional drink to boost the amount of vitamin D, as well as other nutrients their diet may be lacking.

What are good food sources of vitamin D?

When it comes to Vitamin D content, not all foods are created equal. Many people associate vitamin D with sunshine, as it can be absorbed through the skin from the sun’s ultraviolet light, but you can also find it in certain foods. Some of the richest in vitamin D are oily, fatty fish, while some dairy foods offer lower amounts.

The table below provides a list of the most common dietary sources of vitamin D that you can add to your meal plans to help boost how much vitamin D you and your family are getting.

Food Portion Size Amount of Vitamin D (mcg)
Salmon, sockeye, canned 3 ounces 17.9
Trout, rainbow, farmed, cooked 3 ounces 16.2
Salmon, chinook, smoked 3 ounces 14.5
Swordfish, cooked 3 ounces 14.1
Sturgeon, smoked 3 ounces 13.7
Salmon, pink, cooked 3 ounces 11.1
Whitefish smoked 3 ounces 10.9
Mackerel cooked 3 ounces 9.7
Mushrooms, portabella, exposed to ultraviolet light, grilled ½ cup 7.9
Tuna, light, canned in oil, drained 3 ounces 5.7
Halibut, Atlantic and Pacific, cooked 3 ounces 4.9
Herring, Atlantic, cooked 3 ounces 4.6
Sardine, canned in oil, drained 3 ounces 4.1
Enfagrow® 7 ounces 3.8
Whole milk 1 cup 3.2
Tilapia cooked 3 ounces 3.1
Yogurt (various types and flavors) 8 ounces 2.0 - 3.0
Milk (non-fat, 1% and 2%) 1 cup 3.0
Soy milk 1 cup 2.9
Fortified ready-to-eat cereals (various) 1/3 - 1 ¼ cup 0.2 - 2.5
Orange juice fortified 1 cup 2.5
Almond milk (all flavors) 1 cup 2.4
Pork cooked (various cuts) 3 ounces 0.2 - 2.2
Mushrooms, Chanterelle, raw ½ cup 1.4
Egg, hard-boiled
1 large 1.1

While the best natural source of vitamin D is the sun, you can enhance your child’s needs through food. Learn how to introduce new flavors into the diet and find inspiration for fun meal ideas.

All information on Enfamil, including but not limited to information about health, medical conditions, and nutrition, is intended for your general knowledge and is not a substitute for a healthcare professional's medical identification, advice, or management for specific medical conditions. You should seek medical care and consult your doctor or pediatrician for any specific health or nutrition issues. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment, care, or help because of information you have read on Enfamil.