Vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine” vitamin, is very important for your health, as well as your growing baby’s during your pregnancy.
How much of Vitamin D is needed during pregnancy?
This is highly debatable. As recommended by the Institute of Medicine, all women (irrespective of being pregnant or breastfeeding) should have 600 international units (IU) or 15 micrograms (mcg) of Vitamin D each day.
The Endocrine Society and the Linus Pauling Institue recommend around 1,500 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D.
Despite studies showing that Vitamin D up to 10,000 IU causes no harm in pregnant women, it would be advisable to speak to your doctor and decide what is the best form and amount of Vitamin D supplement required for you.
How does less Vitamin D affect your pregnancy?
Vitamin D deficiency is estimated to be seen in 80-85% of pregnant Indian women. It is essential for calcium and phosphorus metabolism, this helps in forming your baby’s bones and teeth.
Lack of Vitamin D affects both the mother and the child. The effects seen are:
In the mother, it can lead to:
In the baby, it can lead to:
- Abnormal bone growth/teeth development
- Low birth weight
- Fractures of bones
- Neonatal rickets
Why can you have a deficiency of Vitamin D?
- Sedentary/Indoor working hours with no exposure to the sun
- Skin color (darker skin are less effective than whiter skin in vitamin D synthesis)
- Living in polluted areas (UVB exposure)
- Living around tall buildings in urban areas
- BMI of <25 (low levels of vitamin D)
What are the good sources of Vitamin D?
Getting a good walk in the morning sunshine for 30 minutes (without sunblock) is the best way to get Vitamin- D. In your food you can include the following components.
For vegetarians: Good sources include mushrooms (sun-grown), soy milk, cheese, raw milk, cereals etc. It is important to read the packaging if the product is fortified with Vitamin D (most cases they are).
For non-vegetarians: Good sources are fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, swordfish, & sardines. Other sources include are beef liver and egg yolks.
- On testing for Vitamin-D values, if your readings are below 30ng/ml (insufficient levels of vitamin D) or below 20ng/ml (vitamin D deficiency), your doctor will recommend additional supplements.