Vitamin D and Pregnancy

Do you need vitamin D supplements during pregnancy?

It can be difficult to keep track of all of your body's increasing demands during pregnancy. From water intake to vital nutrients, you need to pay more attention to your consumption for the good of your growing baby, and in most cases, this means adding more of every healthy element to your daily routine. As for vitamin D, many women don't get enough to begin with; pregnancy calls for a major increase in vitamin D-rich foods and probably some supplements. Before you modify your diet, learn about the recommended daily limits and the best sources for this important but neglected vitamin.


Benefits of Vitamin D in Pregnancy

As you might have heard, it's important to consume calcium with vitamin D to help your body make use of the bone-strengthening properties. During pregnancy, you not only have your own bone health to worry about, but also your baby's skeletal development: your calcium needs go up as you pregnancy progresses and your baby's bones harden, which means you need to make sure your body is using the calcium in your food and supplements efficiently. An adequate daily dose of vitamin D will help calcium do its job, plus it will reduce inflammation and increase immune function.

A vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy can lead to growth retardation, low birth weight, and in severe cases, the abnormal bone condition known as rickets. Unfortunately, these complications will not only affect a child's physical development, immune function and bone strength at birth, but can extend well into adulthood. As for the expectant mother, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to pregnancy complications like preeclampsia and emergency c sections.

Vitamin D Supplements and Food Sources

The sun, although a great form of vitamin D, is not always reliable nor is it the healthiest choice. Instead of depending on sunlight for their vitamin needs, most expectant moms get their daily vitamin D through food and supplements. While expert opinion can differ wildly when it comes to the ideal amount of vitamin D during pregnancy, it is often recommended that moms-to-be get at least 400 IUs but no more than 4000 IUs each day.

As with other vitamins, consuming vitamin D through fresh food is the healthiest way to fulfill your daily requirements. Various types of cold water fish contain healthy doses of vitamin D and are safe to eat during pregnancy, such as salmon, tuna, catfish and sardines. However, there are many types of fortified products on the market that deliver vitamin D, too. Look for milk, orange juice and cereal that have added vitamin D to help you sneak in small amounts throughout your day. For those that can't get enough vitamin D through diet alone (and that includes most women), a supplement that contains vitamin D3 will be your best bet for optimal health.