More vitamin D, slimmer toddlers

In a recent study, vitamin D supplementation during the first year led to toddlers with less body fat.

Vitamin D during a baby’s first year can put them on track to grow into slimmer toddlers, according to new research.

Researchers at McGill University discovered this outcome while they were actually looking for information about vitamin D and bone density in toddlers. They followed up on a 2013 study in which 132 infants in Montreal, Quebec, were given a vitamin D3 supplement at one of four different dosages between the ages of one and 12 months.

The study demonstrated that a daily vitamin D supplement of 400 IU a day during a baby’s first year is critical for developing strong bones. (They also found that higher doses didn’t provide any added benefit in terms of bone development.) They were surprised, however, when the body scans used to assess bone density also revealed that the children who had vitamin D stores above around 450 grams had less body fat at 3 years of age. The only other factor found to make a significant difference to the children's amount of body fat was their level of physical activity.

"We were very intrigued by the higher lean mass, the possibility that vitamin D can help infants to not only grow healthy skeletons but also healthy amounts of muscle and less fat," Hope Weiler, one of the study's authors and director of the Mary Emily Clinical Nutrition Research Unit at McGill University, said in a university release. The study was published in the journal Pediatric Obesity.

Previous research has suggested a strong link between vitamin D and obesity in children and adults.

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