Why Vitamin D is Critical During Pregnancy
You might not realize this—but vitamin D is absolutely critical during pregnancy, specifically during the second and third trimesters.
In the United States, it’s estimated that 80 percent of pregnant women are deficient, and this is putting them at a higher risk for complications. Vitamin D is important for bone health and immune system function, and it also plays a big role in transferring calcium from mother to child, a key component to a child’s skeletal development.
Your body gets vitamin D most effectively from the sun, but it is also found in fatty fish, shiitake mushrooms, Swiss cheese, beef and eggs.
Current Vitamin D Recommendations & Research
Right now the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends getting 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D a day—you’ll find about 50 IU, which is 10 percent of your daily value for vitamin D in a single egg (specifically the yolk).
Research has indicated 600 IU is too low and various studies have shown increasing your intake could decrease your chances of experiencing complications during pregnancy and birth. Here are a few more things you should know about vitamin D during pregnancy:
- A study, funded by the NIH, followed 500 women during their second and third trimester and found those who took 4,000 IU of vitamin D a day had a lower risk of early labor, premature birth or infections.
- In July of 2011, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released information, stating, “When a vitamin D deficiency is identified, most experts agree that 1,000-2,000 IU per day of vitamin D is safe.”
- Multiple studies, including one recently published in the journal Epidemiology have found vitamin D deficiency during the first 26 weeks of gestation could increase the risk of preeclampsia by 40 percent. Preeclampsia is a dangerous condition that causes high blood pressure and excess protein in the urine after 20 weeks’ gestation. If untreated, preeclampsia could lead to serious or fatal complications.
- Research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism have found mothers who had a higher intake of vitamin D were more likely to have children with increased grip strength and muscle mass.
- A large analysis of years of data published in BMJ (previously known as the British Medical Journal) found a link between gestational diabetes and vitamin D deficiency.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) lists low levels of vitamin D as an associated risk of preterm birth and the previously mentioned analysis also found a connection to low birth weight.
When choosing a vitamin D supplement, opt for vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), which is sourced from animals, plants and sunlight exposure. At Back in Balance Wellness Center, our doctors typically recommend getting around 2,000 IU, regardless of deficiency.
Please remember to discuss any major dietary or supplementary changes you’d like to make with your doctor. This post is meant for educational purposes and is not to be used in place of medical advice.