Vitamin D has a primary role in maintaining the levels of phosphate and calcium in your body. I believe that you have already heard that your body needs these minerals to keep your teeth and bones healthy. Having enough vitamin D during pregnancy or while you breastfeed your baby will provide enough calcium and phosphate for your little one.
In that way, your baby will also develop healthy teeth and bones. Plus, vitamin D is crucial in rickets prevention which makes your fight with various infections much stronger and can protect you and your baby against immune system disorders. Some studies show that vitamin D also has a significant role in the prevention of diabetes and some types of cancer.
Table of Contents
- Is Vitamin D a Real Vitamin?
- Doses of the Vitamin D We Need on the Daily Basis?
- How Can You Get Enough Vitamin D?
- Who Is in Danger of Hypovitaminosis D?
- Why Do You Need Vitamin D in Pregnancy?
- How Much Vitamin D Do You Need in Pregnancy?
- Vitamin D Supplements during Pregnancy
- Supplements Which Can Help with Vitamin D Deficiency in Pregnant Women?
Is Vitamin D a Real Vitamin?
For years, doctors have considered that vitamin D has an essential influence on bone and glucose metabolism. Plus, it seems that it modulates the immune response. Gynecologists and endocrinologists have treated patients with vitamin D in menopause because of the higher risk of osteoporosis.
Current studies show that this vitamin affects the whole endocrine system. By the fact that our skin produces vitamin D while we are exposed to the sun’s rays, some of the experts have started to treat vitamin D as a hormone. After producing, it travels through our bloodstream and target all organs. Scientists recently found Vitamin D receptors in the brain, bones, breasts, muscle, pancreas, colon, and even placenta.
Doses of the Vitamin D We Need on the Daily Basis?
The daily doses of vitamin D vary from one study to another. The first problem is the unit we use to measure it. We can measure vitamin D in ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter) or nmol/L (nanomoles per liter). If we know that measurement of 1 ng/mL is approximately equal the 2.44 nmol/L, we can quickly calculate the amount of vitamin D that is needed to our body in both measuring units.
All in all, deficiency of vitamin D occurs when its level is under the 20 ng/mL (under the 50 nmol/L). The normal range of vitamin D is above 32 ng/mL (75 nmol/L). To make confusion even greater, vitamin D in supplements is measured in two different ways. Some manufacturers use micrograms (μg), and the others use international units (IU).
How Can You Get Enough Vitamin D?
There are two ways for you to get enough vitamin D. The first way is effortless. Between April and October, your body makes most of it while you are exposed to sunlight during the day. You should only try to expose your face and hands to sunlight for 20-30 minutes a day during the summer months. Believe me or not, it is everything your body needs to build up enough vitamin D for the long winter months.
|Amount of vitamin D (IU)|
|1 cup of cereal, fortified with vitamin D||40–50|
|Orange juice, fortified with vitamin D, 8 oz||100|
|Cow’s milk, fortified with vitamin D, 8 oz||98|
|Soy milk, fortified with vitamin D, 8 oz||100|
|Cod liver oil, one tablespoon||1,360|
|Tuna, canned in oil, 3 oz||200|
|Herring, 3 oz||1,383|
|Catfish, 3 oz||425|
|Sardines, canned, 3 oz||231|
|Pink salmon, canned, 3 oz||530|
|One drop of Tri-Vi-Sol infant supplements||400|
|Over-the-counter vitamin D3supplements||max 2,000|
|Typical prescription of vitamin D2for deficiency||50,000 weekly|
The other way depends on your diet. The food you eat and the drinks you choose will provide you with some amount of vitamin D. Many foods contain vitamin D naturally. The excellent sources of this vitamin are oily fish (canned salmon, herring. sardines, and mackerel). If your diet includes at least one portion of oily fish a week, it will provide you with enough vitamin D to stay healthy.
Egg yolks and red meat are also good sources of this vitamin. Check the nutritional information on the breakfast cereals, cheeses, margarine, and yogurts packets and discover ones which are fortified with vitamin D. Also, you should know that all milk is vitamin D fortified. Orange juice, low-fat milk, or non-dairy milk alternatives with one cup cereal fortified with vitamin D is an adequate meal which will provide enough vitamin D for all your needs.
Who Is in Danger of Hypovitaminosis D?
Deficiency of Vitamin D has already begun to be a global health problem. It is stunning that 40-60% of the U.S. population, including pregnant women, has a problem with hypovitaminosis D. Results of some studies show that vitamin D deficiency is a problem for up to 97% of all pregnant women due to changes in human lifestyle.
People have less opportunity to produce vitamin D because they spend too much time indoors. Many pregnant women receive this vitamin from the sun less than it’s required for , especially during winter. Except for pregnant women, at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency are people whose exposure to the sun is limited, vegetarians, obese persons, and people with darker skin.
All older people who spend time indoors, those who cover up their body when they go outdoors or avoid the sun, have a deficiency of this vitamin too. Also, in the high-risk of avitaminosis D are breastfed babies whose moms have a low level of vitamin D especially if they live in the polluted urban environment.
And the only thing you need to do to solve this serious problem of the 21st-century-people is to walk through the park during the summer.
Why Do You Need Vitamin D in Pregnancy?
Vitamin D has an irreplaceable role in keeping your cell division healthy and your bone health as well. It is also vital for your cardiovascular function, strong immune system, muscle function, healthy brain development, and proper function of the respiratory system.
Why is vitamin D particularly important during pregnancy? Without this vitamin, it would be impossible for your body to absorb and metabolize calcium and phosphorus. Also, many studies proved a connection between the low level of vitamin D during pregnancy and the severely increased risk of many types of autoimmune diseases, cancer, and insulin resistance, as well as cardiovascular and neurological disorders in babies.
Apart from being needed for your health and maintain the level of both phosphorus and calcium during your pregnancy, vitamin D is essential for building your future baby’s bones and teeth. Moreover, there is much evidence that a deficiency of this vitamin is closely related to preeclampsia.
How Much Vitamin D Do You Need in Pregnancy?
The problem with vitamin D is that you will hardly get enough vitamin D through your diet because very few foods contain enough amount of it. Only a few groceries such as cod liver oil or herring contain this vitamin in sufficient quantities, but there are no many people who use this food on a regular basis.
You can request a blood test if you want to check do you suffer from a low level of vitamin D during your pregnancy and breastfeeding. If tests have confirmed a hypovitaminosis D, ask your healthcare provider to recommend you the best possible supplements to increase the level of vitamin D in your body.
Current guidelines for vitamin D in pregnancy range from 200 to 400 IU daily. It is the amount which you can find in the most popular prenatal vitamin supplements. Some experts believe that it can be potentially unsafe for the pregnant women if she is exposed to more than 2,000 IU vitamin D per day.
There are scientific studies which show that healthy women can safely use supplements with 1000-2000 IU vitamin D daily in the second and third trimesters, without any fear of teratogenicity or toxicity. It is an entirely safe dose which can reduce the most risks of complications during your pregnancy. Just pay attention that you shouldn’t change doses of vitamin D without consulting your doctor.
It is unlikely that you will be overdosing with vitamin D. It seems that only doses over 4,000 IU can lead to early labor, premature birth, and developing some infections. Don’t worry; you can’t get that amount of this vitamin naturally.
The only way to consume a too high amount of this vitamin is in cases when you take supplements. So be careful. You need to avoid using too much of vitamin D supplements during pregnancy because it’s pretty hard for your body to eliminate the excess of it. It is essential for both you and your baby to check if you use them within the healthy range.
Vitamin D Supplements during Pregnancy
The fact is that vitamin D supplements pregnancy and you maybe should consider taking them during this period of your life. If you spend the most time during the day in your office, you may need supplements because there are no many foods rich in vitamin D.
When it comes to this vitamin, the opinions of experts are strict. We know that human skin produces vitamin D using the sun’s rays, but experts think that limited sun exposure is necessary. The most of them claim that pregnant women need to protect themselves and avoid spending time outdoors without the sunglasses and adequate clothing.
The problem is that it’s the only way we can get enough vitamin D. So pregnant women and newborn moms should take supplements daily. It is estimated that a required daily dose is 10mcg of vitamin D. You will probably need to use vitamin D supplements during your pregnancy if you use high-factor sun-block, always cover your skin, have dark skin, or if you have a BMI above 30.
Supplements Which Can Help with Vitamin D Deficiency in Pregnant Women?
For pregnant women who are not exposed to sunlight enough, the best way to ensure adequate doses of vitamin D is using supplements. The exact dose has been recommended, but it is still a topic of scientific debate.
The newest recommendation of National Institutes of Health is that women’s daily needs are 600 IU of vitamin D (15mcg). On the other hand, many experts are convinced that 600 IU is not enough, especially for a pregnant woman. The Linus Pauling Institute (Oregon State University) recommends even up to 2,000 IU (50 μg) of supplemental vitamin D on a daily basis for all healthy adults including pregnant and breastfeeding women.
There are two types of supplements available.
Cholecalciferol – Vitamin D3 is the animal-sourced form (lanolin from sheep or oil from the fish liver).
It’s the most utilized form for the human body. One of the most popular vitamin D3 during pregnancy is Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3. This natural form of vitamin D contains 1000 IU per soft gel.
There is also Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA with 400 IU of vitamin D3 per two soft gels. It is an officially recommended supplement of the American pregnancy association. It supports brain development in babies during pregnancy and lactation.
Ergocalciferol – Vitamin D2 is the ‘vegetarian’ form of vitamin D. It’s a vitamin D analog which helps the human body to use more of the calcium from foods or supplements.
Although experts disagree about the optimal doses of vitamin D that is necessary for the normal functioning of the human body, they agree about minimum daily doses our body needs. It’s also known that this vitamin is essential for the development of the brain and bones of your baby, but it seems that no one can accurately tell you how much this vitamin you really need during your pregnancy and period of breastfeeding.
In normal circumstances, if you are exposed to the sun for at least twenty minutes a day, your body will provide unlimited amounts of vitamin D. People who live in areas where there are no many sunny days during the summer have a problem. Their body is not able to accumulate enough reserves of this vitamin for the upcoming winter. If you are one of them, the best solution is to ask your healthcare provider for advice.