Researchers from McGill University, in Montreal, Canada, have discovered a connection between vitamin D supplementation during infancy and a healthier ratio of muscle and fat in toddlers. “We were very intrigued by the higher lean mass and the possibility that vitamin D can help infants to grow both healthy skeletons and amounts of muscle, yet less fat,” says Hope Weiler, one of the study’s authors and director of the Mary Emily Clinical Nutrition Research Unit at the university.
The original 2013 study, which followed 132 infants given one of four different dosages of vitamin D daily during their first years, confirmed the connection with strong bones. The 2016 study used the same data to explore the impact of vitamin D supplementation on the toddlers’ body fat levels. The researchers found that children given more than 400 international units per day during the first year of life had an average of 450 less grams of body fat at age 3. They also found a correlation between the supplementation and lean muscle mass in the youngsters during their first three years.