Vitamin D requirements during lactation: high-dose maternal supplementation as therapy to prevent hypovitaminosis D for both the mother and the nursing infant

Bruce W Hollis, Carol L Wagner
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2004, 80 (6 Suppl): 1752S-8S
Scientific data pertaining to vitamin D supplementation during lactation are scarce. The daily recommended intake for vitamin D during lactation has been arbitrarily set at 400 IU/d (10 microg/d). This recommendation is irrelevant with respect to maintaining the nutritional vitamin D status of mothers and nursing infants, especially among darkly pigmented individuals. Our objective was to examine the effect of high-dose maternal vitamin D2 supplementation on the nutritional vitamin D status of mothers and nursing infants. Fully lactating women (n = 18) were enrolled at 1 mo after birth to 1 of 2 treatment arms, ie, 1600 IU vitamin D2 and 400 IU vitamin D3 (prenatal vitamin) or 3600 IU vitamin D2 and 400 IU vitamin D3, for a 3-mo study period. High-dose (1600 or 3600 IU/d) vitamin D2 supplementation for a period of 3 mo safely increased circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentrations for both groups. The antirachitic activity of milk from mothers receiving 2000 IU/d vitamin D increased by 34.2 IU/L, on average, whereas the activity in the 4000 IU/d group increased by 94.2 IU/L. Nursing infant circulating 25(OH)D2 concentrations reflected maternal intake and the amount contained in the milk. With limited sun exposure, an intake of 400 IU/d vitamin D would not sustain circulating 25(OH)D concentrations and thus would supply only limited amounts of vitamin D to nursing infants in breast milk. A maternal intake of 2000 IU/d vitamin D would elevate circulating 25(OH)D concentrations for both mothers and nursing infants, albeit with limited capacity, especially with respect to nursing infants. A maternal intake of 4000 IU/d could achieve substantial progress toward improving both maternal and neonatal nutritional vitamin D status.

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