IMPORTANCE OF VITAMIN D DURING PREGNANCYPublished:
Written by: Co-Founder Maria Davi
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Nicole Palmer, DO
Updated December 27th, 2023
Vitamin D is a vital nutrient for every human, but it’s even more critical during pregnancy. So, what is vitamin D good for? Many people associate calcium with bone health, not knowing that vitamin D plays an equally important role.
Vitamin D enables your body to absorb calcium and other minerals your developing baby and soon-to-be mom need. Vitamin D is not naturally found in many foods, so a lot of foods are fortified with it. You can also get your daily requirement with the help of dietary supplements.
It's essential for pregnant women to ensure they have sufficient vitamin D levels. However, many people, including pregnant women, may have inadequate levels of vitamin D due to factors such as limited sun exposure (which helps trigger vitamin D synthesis in your body), dietary choices, geographic location, and skin tone.
Read on to learn how much vitamin D during pregnancy you need, different good sources of vitamin D, plus everything you need to know about vitamin D supplements.
★WHY IS VITAMIN D SO IMPORTANT DURING PREGNANCY?
For all humans, vitamin D is essential but is one of the most vital nutrients for pregnant women. It helps your body maintain proper calcium and phosphorus levels, the main building blocks for your developing baby’s bones and teeth. It also plays an essential role in healthy eyesight skin and aids in normal immune system functions.
There are two different forms of vitamin D, D2 and D3, both obtained from sun exposure, foods, and supplements. Both are naturally occurring forms produced in the presence of the sun’s ultraviolet-B rays (UVB). Giving this nutrient the nickname the sunshine vitamin.
Vitamin D2 is naturally produced by plants, making it plant-sourced, perfect for vegans and vegetarians! It is found in some supplements and sometimes used in fortified foods. Vitamin D3 is naturally produced in the human body and is found in animal-sourced foods.
Natural production in the skin is a primary source of vitamin D. Many pregnant women struggle to naturally get enough, particularly ones who live in places where sunlight is limited in the winter or spend most of their time indoors. Most doctors recommend limiting sunbathing due to UV rays intensifying pigment changes that can cause irregular darkening of the skin in pregnant women.
★HOW MUCH VITAMIN D SHOULD I TAKE WHILE PREGNANT?
According to the ACOG, pregnant and lactating women should get 600 IUs (15 mcg) each day, but many experts believe this isn’t nearly enough. Depending on your daily direct sun exposure, this may vary. Some believe a higher dose is recommended for individuals who live in places where sunlight is limited. The Endocrine Society considers, “Most adults 19 years and older should obtain between 400-1000 IUs of vitamin D daily from food and/or with supplements.”
The daily recommendation of vitamin D for pregnant and lactating women is debatable among researchers. According to the Journal of Internal Medicine, 1000 IUs daily is recommended for the average pregnant woman due to inadequate sun exposure.
Even though this fat-soluble vitamin can be tricky to naturally find in food sources, a daily prenatal vitamin taken throughout pregnancy can help maintain adequate levels of vitamin D. As with any supplements during pregnancy, ask your primary care if it is safe to take vitamin D.
★WHAT HAPPENS IF YOUR VITAMIN D IS LOW DURING PREGNANCY?
Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with pregnancy complications and can lead to osteoporosis later in life for mom. It has been found to be associated with an increased risk of pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, preterm birth, and low birth weight. Although very rare, inadequate vitamin D can lead to newborns having abnormal bone growth, fracture or rickets, muscle disease, and seizures.
In some studies, vitamin D deficiency may be related to an increased risk of gestational diabetes. Vitamin D directly affects pancreatic beta cells and is required for the normal insulin secretion function on the endocrine pancreas. Therefore, a deficiency is related to blood glucose and insulin concentration.
Studies have also suggested that low vitamin D during pregnancy increases your baby’s risk of getting asthma in childhood and other health problems.
★BEST FOODS HIGH IN VITAMIN D DURING PREGNANCY
In the United States, you can obtain vitamin D from foods that are fortified, such as fortified dairy products. Here are good sources of vitamin D during pregnancy.
- Fatty Fish, such as Salmon, Tuna, Mackerel, and Canned Sardines in oil. (No more than 12 ounces per week)
- Dairy Products, such as egg yolks, fortified plant-based milk, fortified milks (dairy & plant-based), fortified yogurt, and fortified cheese
- Fortified orange juice
- Fortified cereal
★VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY DURING PREGNANCY SYMPTOMS INCLUDE:
- Achy muscles
- Bone pain
- Softened bones, which may lead to fractures, and breakage.
Calcium and vitamin D work together therefore, low vitamin d during pregnancy can lead to inadequate calcium absorption. A blood test is required to check your vitamin D levels.
For more information on the best calcium for pregnancy, check out The Importance Of Calcium During Pregnancy.
★BEST PRENATAL VITAMINS WITH VITAMIN D
One of the best over-the-counter prenatal vitamins during pregnancy is Feed Mom & Me Complete Prenatal with DHA. It contains 125 mcg of vitamin D3 to be sure that both mother and baby are receiving adequate supplementation while your baby is developing!
This prenatal is formulated by an OBGYN Registered Dietitian, containing all the nutrients needed during and after pregnancy. Each small and easy-to-swallow pill is packed with 22 key natural nutrients to provide nutritional support for you and your breastfeeding newborn. It contains calcium, iron, folate, vitamins A, E, C, D, and B complex, iron, choline, DHA, magnesium, iodine, selenium, and zinc.
The vegetarian formula is free of artificial colors and flavors, chemicals, preservatives, non-GMO, non-dairy, soy-free, and is gluten-free. Each of their capsules contains B6, Organic Ginger, and Peppermint Powder, which can help alleviate morning sickness and nausea.
Adding to that, it is a women-owned company. Who better than a female would understand pregnancy!