Vitamin D during pregnancy is important to the health of a woman and her unborn child. Expectant mothers should work with their doctors to get the recommended dosage of vitamin D to assure optimum health benefits from it.
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a steroid vitamin from a group of fat-soluble pro-hormones. They contain the most significant compounds for human development, which are D2 and D3. Although prenatal vitamins have larger doses of vitamin D in them than normal vitamins, they don’t have the amount of vitamin D that a pregnant woman should take. Prenatal vitamins have around 400 IU (International Units).
How much vitamin D do you need during pregnancy?
No one knows the ideal dose of vitamin D in pregnancy but many experts suggest an additional 1,000 to 2,000 IU daily.
Why is vitamin D important during pregnancy?
Vitamin D plays an active role in supporting immune function, healthy cell division, and bone health. Additionally, vitamin D is a key ingredient in the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorus. Studies are discovering a link between low serum vitamin D levels and an increased risk of various health issues. These include certain types of cancers, autoimmune disease, neurological disease, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular disease.
An expectant mother’s baby will benefit from vitamin D by having healthy bone development.
Vitamin D deficiency and its causes
A staggering number of people in the United States are deficient in vitamin D — 40 to 60 percent — and that includes pregnant women.
Several variables factor into why so many people are lacking vitamin D, but one major component has to do with only certain foods containing the vitamin.
Foods that have vitamin D are egg yolks, tuna, mackerel, salmon, beef liver, cheese, and cod liver oil. A significant amount of vitamin D is consumed through fortified foods like milk. For a large percentage of those who are lactose intolerant, this isn’t a viable source of vitamin D.
Other reasons have to do with the body’s unique ability to make and absorb vitamin D. Where a person lives, the time of year, how much time is spent outdoors, the use of sunscreen, skin pigmentation, age, obesity, pollution, and having healthy intestines with maximum absorption volume all have an impact on the amount of vitamin D a person can have. These are the determining factors in how much vitamin D a person needs.
Research has shown that a significant portion of the U.S. population falls into one of three categories that are related to vitamin D deficiency: obesity, use of sunscreen, and older citizens (ages 50 and over).
How to consume enough vitamin D
People can get enough vitamin D by making sure they eat foods containing vitamin D as well as getting a reasonable amount of sun exposure two or three times a week for up to just 5 to 10 minutes at a time. Ideally, exposing the hands, arms, legs, and face to the sun for these brief periods time will go a long ways in providing the body with vitamin D.
One of the most effective ways to increase vitamin D intake is through supplements.
There are two forms of vitamin D supplements: Ergocalciferol is a vegetarian form of vitamin D while cholecalciferol is the animal-sourced form that typically comes from fish liver oil or lanolin that’s derived from sheep.
The cholecalciferol form absorbs better than the vegan option. Ask you doctor how much vitamin D is best for you.
Pacific Women’s Center is here to assist pregnant women in sustaining their health as well as the health of their babies. Contact the center to learn more about figuring out how much vitamin D you need during pregnancy and getting the right amount just for you.