Vitamin D and Pregnancy

The first thing that comes to mind when I think about Vitamin D is SUNSHINE. 🙂

But did you know that many health experts consider the benefits of vitamin D to be one of the most important health discoveries in the last century? It is especially critical during and after pregnancy.

Outdoor portrait of unrecognizable young pregnant woman in the field

The Basics:

Vitamin D is found in 2 forms. Vitamin D2 (Ergocalciferol) is made by plants. You can find it in foods that have been fortified, such as juices, milk, or cereals (not really the best source). However, Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol), the most complete form of Vitamin D, is made when the skin is exposed to sun.

We’ve been somewhat taught by the media to think that all sun exposure is bad. This is not true! Getting 15 minutes of direct sunlight on unprotected skin is usually enough to get in your daily dose. Nature is your best bet for Vitamin D. Including foods in your diet that contain vitamin D, like fish (wild salmon is good), cod liver oil, milk, eggs, fresh fruits, and vegetables will also help. Unfortunately, most of us cannot get enough Vitamin D through food sources or sun exposure due to diet and/or working indoors most days.

It is estimated that up to 2/3 of the population is Vitamin D deficient and needs to take a Vitamin D3 supplement. Keep in mind that it is a fat-soluble vitamin and should be taken with a meal for the best absorption possible.

So what are some of the benefits?

  • Bone Health – Vitamin D aids in the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorous
  • Increases bone density & helps decrease fractures
  • Helps to prevent osteoporosis
  • Enhances the immune system, lowering the incidence of colds or flu
  • Lowers incidence of cancer & rheumatoid arthritis
  • Controls hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Aids in heart/cardiovascular health, preventing premature death
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Prevention against diabetes, autoimmune diseases, & multiple sclerosis
  • Eases muscle aches & fibromyalgia symptoms Improves serotonin levels, thus aiding the control of depression
  • Supports pregnancy health
  • Helps control appetite and even improves fat-loss efforts!!

 

Impact of Vitamin D in Preconception and Pregnancy Health
(Information directly from: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/07/22/pregnant-women-advised-to-get-more-vitamin-d.aspx)

U.S. researchers Drs. Hollis and Wagner provided their findings from what is considered the first scientific trial that meets the most stringent criteria for “evidence-based inquiry” into vitamin D and pregnancy.

Their findings were discussed at an international vitamin D research conference in Brugge, Belgium, and included:

  • Mothers who took 4,000 IU’s (ten times the RDA of 400 IU) of vitamin D during pregnancy had their risk of premature birth reduced by half
  • Premature babies born to women taking high doses of vitamin D were reduced by half at both 32 and 37 weeks
  • There were also fewer babies who were born “small for dates”
  • Women taking high doses of vitamin D had a 25 percent reduction in infections, particularly respiratory infections such as colds and flu, as well as fewer infections of the vagina and the gums
  • The “core morbidities of pregnancy” were reduced by 30 percent in the women who took the high-dose vitamin D. (Including diabetes, high blood pressure, and pre-eclampsia — a potentially deadly increase in blood pressure and fluid accompanied by low platelets)
  • Babies getting the highest amounts of vitamin D after birth had fewer colds and less eczema “I’m telling every pregnant mother I see to take 4,000 IUs and every nursing mother to take 6,400 IUs of vitamin D a day.”Those who took the highest amount — 4,000 IU a day — were the least likely to go into labor early, give birth prematurely or develop infections.
  • In the new study, which was presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Vancouver, B.C., women who were at least 12 weeks pregnant took 400, 2,000 or 4,000 IU of vitamin D a day.
  • The findings are so significant that researcher Dr. Bruce Hollis of the Medical University of South Carolina said:

 

How to determine if you are deficient in Vitamin D?

Drs. Hollis and Wagner determined that over 87 percent of all newborns and over 67 percent of all mothers had vitamin D levels lower than 20 ng/ml, which is a severe deficiency state. As a result, the researchers recommended that all mothers increase their vitamin D levels during pregnancy, especially in the winter months, to safeguard their babies’ health.

When pregnant, it is essential that your vitamin D level is checked. This may not be a routine screen depending upon your provider, therefore, ask specifically for the 25(OH)D, also called 25-hydroxyvitamin D, blood test.

 

Vitamin D in Pregnancy Information from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/07/22/pregnant-women-advised-to-get-more-vitamin-d.aspx

 

Melanie  Melanie is the Wellness Coordinator for Willowsong Midwifery Care, a Certified Health Coach (through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and AADP), and more importantly a mom of 3 small children. She is very passionate about empowering moms and children in attaining overall health and wellness and loves supporting Willowsong Families with health classes, free initial prenatal consults, information via blogging and much more! Melanie approaches health from a holistic perspective, meaning that she believes each component of our lives creates our overall health and wellness. You are welcome to connect with Melanie anytime via email (Melanie@Food4Thoughtdm.com).

Please don’t just take Melanie’s experience…as always consult with your medical professional and your own self understanding when making health decision; Melanie is not a medical professional, a nutritionist or dietician. She does not hold a degree in medicine, dietetics, or nutrition. Melanie makes no claim to any specialized medical training, nor does she dispense medical advice or prescriptions. This content is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease, preconception or pregnancy health. It is intended to be provided for informational, educational, and self-empowerment purposes ONLY. Please consult with your doctor or wellness team if you have questions and then make your own well-informed decisions based upon what is best for your unique genetics, culture, conditions, and stage of life.