Vitamin D is added to baby formula because it is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in bone growth and development. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, which is necessary for the formation and strengthening of bones.

Babies who are exclusively breastfed may not get enough vitamin D from breast milk alone because the amount of vitamin D in breast milk is not always sufficient. Therefore it is recommended that breastfed infants receive a vitamin D supplement, usually in the form of drops, to ensure that they receive enough of this important nutrient.

Infant formula, on the other hand, is already fortified with vitamin D, along with other important vitamins and minerals, to ensure that infants who are fed formula receive adequate nutrition. 

Regulations for mandatory amounts of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is considered a critical nutrient for infant growth and development and is a mandatory ingredient in all US and EU infant formula.

The regulations regarding vitamin D in baby formula vary between the EU and the US. Here are some key differences:

  1. Recommended daily intake: The EU and the US have different recommended daily intakes (RDIs) of vitamin D for infants. The EU recommends a minimum of 400 IU (10 micrograms) of vitamin D per day for infants, while the US recommends 400-800 IU per day, depending on the age of the infant.
  2. Fortification levels: The EU and the US also have different fortification levels for vitamin D in infant formula. In the EU, the maximum amount of vitamin D that can be added to infant formula is 3 micrograms per 100 kilocalories. In the US, the maximum amount of vitamin D that can be added to infant formula is 2.5 micrograms per 100 kilocalories.
  3. Formulation requirements: The EU requires that infant formula be fortified with vitamin D2 or vitamin D3, while the US only requires the addition of vitamin D3. Both forms of vitamin D are effective in increasing vitamin D in infants.
  4. Labeling requirements: The EU and the US also have different labeling requirements for vitamin D in infant formula. In the EU, the amount of vitamin D in infant formula must be listed on the label as a percentage of the RDI. In the US, the amount of vitamin D in infant formula must be listed on the label in micrograms or International Units (IU). 

 How is Vitamin D produced?

Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is naturally produced by the skin when it is exposed to sunlight, and it is also found in animal-based foods such as fish, egg yolks, and dairy products. Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol), on the other hand, is found in plant-based foods such as algae.

The vitamin D used in infant formula is typically derived from lanolin, a waxy substance obtained from sheep's wool. The lanolin is purified and exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light to convert a compound called 7-dehydrocholesterol to vitamin D3. The resulting vitamin D3 is then purified, processed, and added to infant formula.

Less common is vitamin D3 obtained from fish oil. The oil is extracted from fish and purified, and the resulting vitamin D3 is added to infant formula.

Our plant based, certified vegan formulas (Sprout, Premiriz and Bebe M) contain Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) which is obtained from algae, which is 100% plant based. The US formula marketed as vegan or plant based derives its vitamin D from sheep lanolin and for that reason it is not certified vegan.

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for infants, and the regulated, mandatory amount of vitamin D contained in infant formula ensures proper bone growth and development without the need for additional supplements.

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