Vitamin D is a nutrient that helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus, effectively paving the way for the formation of bones. It also plays a hefty role in supporting the immune system, facilitating messages from the brain to elsewhere in the body, and helping muscles move. Although the body produces Vitamin D when exposed to direct sunlight, it can be difficult to rely on sunshine alone to account for the total Vitamin D requirements for you and Baby, as being indoors, in the shade, or beneath a cloudy sky will reduce the amount of Vitamin D your body produces, and every pregnant mom should know that it is not a good idea to linger in the sun for extended periods of time. Women with darker skin also produce less Vitamin D than needed. The Institute of Medicine has established a recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 600 IU Vitamin D for pregnant women.
How does Vitamin D help?
Vitamin D helps both mom and Baby’s bone formation and immune system development, as well as helping their brain begin to communicate with the rest of their body, and making their little arms and legs rustle and kick about. Vitamin D has traditionally been afforded great reverence as a staple pregnancy nutrient, and many researchers believe that ample Vitamin D intake will help prevent bone density problems like rickets and osteomalacia once Baby grows up a little bit. According to Philip Steer of Imperial College London, those who are considered at-risk for Vitamin D deficiency, and may therefore want to speak to their healthcare providers about supplementation include: “women of South Asian, black African, black Caribbean or Middle Eastern origin, as well as women with little exposure to sunlight or who were obese before pregnancy.”
What are some good sources of Vitamin D?
Vitamin D does not naturally occur in very many food products, but lots of cereals, eggs, juices, milk, and other products are Vitamin D-fortified, providing you some additional Vitamin D beyond the sun’s rays. Just about all prenatal vitamins will contain Vitamin D, usually about 400 IU worth, which when combined with the amount that your body will naturally produce, and your consumption of Vitamin D-fortified foods, should result in reaching and surpassing your daily target of Vitamin D. Check the nutritional information on the back of the box to see if your food and drink choices are Vitamin D-fortified. You should also talk to your healthcare provider if you have any questions about your Vitamin D intake during pregnancy.
Reviewed by Dr. Jamie Lo
- AK Sfakianaki. “Prenatal vitamins: A review of the literature on benefits and risks of various nutrient supplements.” Formulary Journal. ModernMedicine Network. Web. 1/31/2013.
- “Nutrition During Pregnancy: FAQ001.” ACOG. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 4/15/2015. Web.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Pregnancy diet: Focus on these essential nutrients.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 3/1/2014. Web.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “Vitamin D: Screening and Supplementation During Pregnancy: Committe Opinion Number 495.” ACOG. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 7/11/2014. Web.