Do breastfed infants need supplemental vitamins?

Pediatr Clin North Am. 2001 Apr;48(2):415-23. doi: 10.1016/s0031-3955(08)70034-8.


Table 2 shows that human milk will not meet the DRI for all vitamins in breastfeeding infants. The most glaring discrepancy between intake and the RDA is for vitamin D, although, as discussed, infants may synthesize this from sunlight exposure. Vitamin K must be given in the newborn period. Deficiencies of other vitamins are rare, especially if mothers are nourished adequately. If breastfeeding infants are to be supplemented with vitamin D or any other vitamins, the standard liquid preparations available all contain large amounts of the water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins (except for vitamin K), which more than meets the RDA. The milk content of thiamin, pyridoxine, and niacin is correlated highly with maternal intake, and these vitamins are all present in relatively large amounts in standard multivitamin tablets given to lactating mothers. In conclusion, in healthy, breastfed infants of well-nourished mothers, there is little risk for vitamin deficiencies and the need for vitamin supplementation is rare. The exceptions to this are a need for vitamin K in the immediate newborn period and vitamin D in breastfed infants with dark skin or inadequate sunlight exposure.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding* / adverse effects
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Infant Food
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Nutrition Policy*
  • Nutritional Requirements*
  • Vitamins / physiology
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use*


  • Vitamins