Vitamin D when pregnant is crucial not only for your health but also for the proper development of your baby. If you are an expecting mother, you must make sure that you get the recommended daily amounts of vitamin D.
During pregnancy, many women focus on folic acid. They ignore the fact that they need to consume a healthy, balanced diet to get all their and their babies’ needs of vitamins and minerals. Many pregnant women ask: should I take vitamin D in pregnancy? Is vitamin D good when pregnant? How much vitamin D does a pregnant woman need? This indicates that many women do not know how crucial this vitamin is during pregnancy.
In this article, we will explain how important vitamin D for pregnant women is!
Vitamin D in Pregnancy
Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin. That is why from September to March, pregnant women need to make sure that their daily vitamin D intake is above 10 micrograms (400 IU). Your healthcare provider may recommend taking a supplement to make sure that you take this amount.
Vitamin D is crucial for regulating calcium and phosphate in our bodies. These elements are required for maintaining our bones, teeth, and muscles healthy.
Spending time in the sun is great to increase your levels of vitamin D. However, the time that should be spent to get enough vitamin D is not clear.
Vitamin D also exists in many foods such as oily fish, eggs, and red meat. Unfortunately, fruits and vegetables do not contain any vitamin D. Therefore, pregnant, vegan women should consult their doctors about how to get enough vitamin D via supplements and fortified foods.
Vitamin D Deficiency in Pregnant Women
Vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women is a serious health issue. It affects both the mother and the newborn. For the fetus, the risk of abnormal bone growth, rickets, and bone fractures increase significantly. In addition, vitamin D deficiency can increase the risk of pregnancy-related complications such as low birth weight, preterm birth, and gestational diabetes.
Many factors contribute to increasing the risk of vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy such as:
- Obesity: In obese people, fat stores most of the vitamin D in the skin cells. Therefore, most vitamin D in obese people does not exist in the body.
- Dark Skin: Dark skin indicates that the level of melanin in the skin is high. Melanin is a natural sunscreen. Therefore, it inhibits the vitamin D production process in the skin.
- Certain Medications: Steroids, certain diuretics, cholesterol-lowering drugs, and many other medications inhibit the absorption of vitamin D from the intestines.
- GIT Disorders: Celiac diseases, Crohn’s disease, and other fat malabsorption conditions inhibit the absorption of vitamin D.
Low vitamin D when pregnant is dangerous. If you have any of the earlier factors, inform your healthcare provider and ask about the best possible ways to increase your vitamin D levels during and after pregnancy.
Can You Take Vitamin D While Pregnant?
Yes, vitamin D while pregnant must be taken. Unfortunately, there is not enough data on the safety of higher doses of vitamin D during pregnancy. However, studies do answer this question: Is 4000 IU of vitamin D safe during pregnancy?
Studies show that taking up to 100 micrograms (4000 IU) per day is a safe dosage for most pregnant and lactating women. Pregnant women who took these dosages showed no evidence of any harm. They even had a 50% lower risk of developing pregnancy-related complications.
How Much Vitamin D Per Day Do You Need During Pregnancy?
All pregnant women should take at least 10 micrograms (400 IU) per day. This dosage will provide both you and your baby with enough vitamin D during the first few weeks of pregnancy. It may even build up stores your developing fetus needs during the first 6 months of pregnancy.
Therefore, a 10 micrograms vitamin D supplement should be part of your prenatal multivitamin. If it does not, your healthcare provider may recommend taking it as a separate supplement.
Notice that low vitamin D may cause many problems. On the other hand, high dosages show no harm. Even at levels above 10,000 IU, there is no evidence that vitamin D is toxic for you or your baby.
Is Vitamin D Good When Pregnant?
Of course, vitamin D for pregnant mothers is one of the most important elements. The following health concerns were covered in many research papers to indicate how important vitamin D is for pregnant women.
- Fetal Growth: Vitamin D-deficient women have babies with lower birth weight than normal. On the other hand, women who take vitamin D tablets have babies with higher calcium and 25(OH)D levels and a higher weight at birth at 3, 6, and 12 months of follow-up.
- Preterm Birth: There is a direct relationship between maternal vitamin D deficiency and preterm birth. This risk decreases significantly in vitamin D-supplemented women.
- Preeclampsia: Many studies suggest that there is an association between low vitamin D levels and the risk of preeclampsia. This risk is much lower when vitamin D levels are maintained elevated during pregnancy.
- Gestational Diabetes: Low vitamin D levels during pregnancy increases the risk of gestational diabetes. The risk is higher in overweight and obese pregnant women. Vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy decreases this risk significantly.
- Offspring Bone and Teeth Health: Low maternal vitamin D levels are associated with low bone mineral density and the risk of the small size of the infant at birth. Children of mothers supplemented with the higher vitamin D dosages during pregnancy have better whole-body bone mineral content.
- Neurological Disorders: Low vitamin D levels during the first trimester increase the risk of developing Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) during the first years of life.
The Bottom Line
Taking vitamin D when pregnant is important to prevent the previously discussed negative outcomes for both the mother and her baby. Studies recommend starting vitamin D supplementations during the first trimester of pregnancy for the healthy development of your fetus. Besides, many healthcare providers suggest taking vitamin D as a preventive treatment for pregnancy-related complications.