Vitamin D is a steroid vitamin from a group of fat-soluble prohormones. Vitamin D and pregnancy are important together. Expecting mothers need to make sure they get the recommended amounts of vitamin D during pregnancy for both their own well being and the healthy development of their baby. The most significant compounds for human development are D2 and D3.
Why do I need Vitamin D during pregnancy?
Vitamin D is beneficial for your own personal health. Vitamin D now has extensive research supporting its role in immune function, healthy cell division, and bone health.
Vitamin D is necessary for the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorus. Many studies are finding a connection between low serum vitamin D levels and an increased risk of certain types of cancers, autoimmune disease, neurological disease, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular disease.
Vitamin D invests in the well-being of your baby by supporting healthy bone development. Deficiency with vitamin D is also related to preeclampsia.
Does my prenatal vitamin have enough vitamin D?
It is unlikely your prenatal vitamin provides enough vitamin D. A recent study found women taking 4,000 IU of vitamin D daily had the greatest benefits in preventing preterm labor/births and infections.
The study confirmed vitamin D at this level is not only safe for you, but for your baby, and the researchers from this study now recommend this daily dosage of vitamin D for all pregnant women. The average prenatal vitamin only contains 400 IU of vitamin D, so additional supplementation should be taken daily.
What contributes to vitamin deficiency?
At this time, 40-60% of the entire U.S. population is vitamin D deficient, including pregnant women. The reasons for this widespread deficiency are many, and to begin to unfold this issue you can start with understanding there is a very short list of foods that contain vitamin D.
These foods are egg yolk, salmon and cod liver oil, however, most vitamin D is consumed through fortified foods like milk. For 75% of the population that is lactose intolerant, fortified milk products are not a reliable source of vitamin D consumption.
Additionally, many factors influence the body’s ability to make and absorb vitamin D. These factors include: where you live, the season, how much time you spend outdoors without sunscreen, skin pigmentation, age, obesity, pollution, and having healthy intestines with optimal absorption capacity. These factors come in to play because Vitamin D is actually a hormone and needs sunlight, in order for the body to manufacture it properly.
At this time, a large part of the U.S. population falls into one, or more, of these categories:
- Uses sunscreen
- Is a senior citizen (50+), so it is not surprising that vitamin D deficiencies have risen to such proportions.
What steps can you take to get Vitamin D?
You can begin by making an effort to eat more vitamin D containing foods. Next, research suggests sensible sun exposure (usually 5-10 min of exposure of the arms and legs or the hands, arms, and face, 2 or 3 times per week) can help as well.
However, the best way to really ensure adequate vitamin D is through simple supplementation. When supplementing, your choices will be between two forms of vitamin D. Ergocalciferol is the vegetarian form of vitamin D and cholecalciferol is the animal-sourced form, usually derived from fish liver oil or lanolin from sheep.
The cholecalciferol form is the most absorbable and utilized form for the body, but if you are vegan you should choose ergocalciferol. Quality is important. We recommend Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3 (1000 IU per soft gel) in the natural form cholecalciferol form.
The carrier oil is organic, extra virgin olive oil and they come in small, soft gels that are very easy to swallow. We also recommend Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA with added vitamin D3 (400 IU per 2 soft gels). This product provides two of the most important nutrients for pregnant women backed by a long-standing, reliable company that guarantees optimum purity, quality and freshness.
Want to Know More?
Compiled using information from the following sources:
1. Vitamin D Supplementation during Pregnancy Part 2 NICHD/CTSA Randomized Clinical Trial (RCT): Outcomes.
2. Carol L. Wagner, Donna Johnson, Thomas C. Hulsey, Myla Ebeling, Judy Shary, Pamela G. Smith, Betty Bivens, Bruce W. Hollis. Pediatrics/Obstetrics, Medical University of SC, Charleston, SC.Maternal Vitamin D and Fetal Growth in Early-Onset Severe Preeclampsia.
3. Christopher Robinson, Carol Wagner, Bruce Hollis, John Baatz, and Donna Johnson. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2011 June.