Vitamin D is responsible for creating strong teeth and bones for both the mother and baby. Lack of this particular vitamin in pregnant women is equal with lots of risks, from premature birth to preeclampsia. Find out the recommended dose in pregnancy and other risks associated with the deficiency of this vitamin in the pregnant woman`s body.
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Role of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is obtained by the body through food and skin synthesis under the influence of sunlight. This vitamin helps in the healthy developing of the skeleton. For these reasons, during the winter season, when the solar radiation is smaller in intensity, it`s recommended to supplement vitamin D intake, including by the expecting mothers without health issues. Even in larger amounts than the normal dose, it were found that there are no side effects on the pregnant woman or the fetus. A recent study performed at the Medical University of South Carolina showed exactly the opposite. Experts claim that a daily dose of 200 units of vitamin D can only have beneficial effects on the mother and baby. Researchers have monitored 350 women found in the weeks 12 to 16 of pregnancy, whom they divided into 3 groups. One of the groups has received 400 units of vitamin D each day, while the second group has received 2.000 units of vitamin D every day and the third group received 4.000 units every day. At the end of the study, no side effects were seen in any of the 3 groups.
Daily Recommended Dose of Vitamin D during Pregnancy
Generally speaking, this dose is established together with the doctor that monitors your pregnancy, but it`s thought that 5 mcg per day is enough for expecting mothers.
Still, this may differ from one pregnant woman to another depending on:
- Skin color.
- Sun exposure.
Which is the optimal dose of vitamin D? The daily recommended dose is of 5 – 10 mcg (more at those over 50 years old). Mainly, experts recommend to adults with ages between 19 – 50 years around 5 mcg per day. This recommendation is available for pregnant women or breastfeeding women as well. Adults over 50 years need 10 mcg per day. Parents are advised to give to children 2 cups of milk per day (a cup of milk is equal with 2.5 mcg of vitamin D).
Where Do We Get Vitamin D?
Your body produces enough vitamin D most of the times by sun exposure in the periods of April to October, between 11.00 and 15.00, depending on where you live. The further away you live in the north, the less time the sun stays in the right angle to allow the body to produce vitamin D.
Try to expose at least your face and forearms to the sunlight for at least 20 minutes per day, without blocking the sun during summer. This will build enough amount of vitamin D for the long months of winter. In any case, make sure you protect your skin with sunscreen and cover it before it gets red or burn.
The best sources of vitamin D are fatty fish, such as: salmon, mackerel and sardines. You should consume at least 2 portions of fish per week, among which one of them should be fatty fish. Red meat, beef liver, soybeans, egg yolks, mushrooms, orange juice, Swiss cheese or milk also contain our vitamin.
Certain types of margarine (which actually aren`t recommended) and breakfast cereals are enriched with vitamin D, so check the nutritional information on the package.
During winter, the sun isn`t at the right angle to produce rays that can stimulate the vitamin D production for our skin. So, we need to get this vitamin from the food we consume to supplement the reserves of our body.
Benefits of Vitamin D
Combats the Risk of Preeclampsia
Researchers report that deficiency of vitamin D increases the risk of preeclampsia during pregnancy, a medical condition which can be fatal. Some experts have suspected that a low level of this vitamin contributes to the development of this pregnancy complication, which is characterized through the increase of tension, swelling legs and arms.
Scientists have studies blood samples in women and newborns during the first period of pregnancy and even before birth. They have identified 15 women who suffered of preeclampsia and have compared them with 220 who didn`t suffered of this condition.
Although most women had a low level of vitamin D, the ones who suffered of preeclampsia had a much lower level of this vitamin than the other women.
Surprisingly, most women took vitamins during pregnancy that contained vitamin D. However, experts consider that the vitamin D dose needs to be increased during pregnancy to prevent the condition. They warn that the dose needs to be established by the doctor because an overdose has negative side effects.
It Helps in Developing a Healthy Diet in the Fetus
A Canadian study which has analyzed the influence of vitamin D during pregnancy has related the fact that it can have beneficial effects on the baby`s teeth. Vitamin D greatly reduces the risk of caries and strengthens the tooth enamel in children. This happens only if the vitamin D is administered even during pregnancy.
Strong Teeth & Bones for Women during Pregnancy
Vitamin D is the one helping the expecting mother balance the calcium level in the body, which is crucial for strengthening the teeth and bones, sometimes being very affected by pregnancy.
Take into account that you need a strong and health organism to physically support pregnancy through the entire 9 months (especially during the third trimester).
Combats Infections during Pregnancy
Deficiency of vitamin D from the pregnant woman`s body has been associated with the development of vaginal infection. This happens due to the result of an imbalance of bacteria that is naturally fund in the vagina.
Researchers have analyzed 469 pregnant women found in the first trimester and have discovered a connection between vaginal infection and deficiency of vitamin D. – Read this!
Combats Premature Birth or Imposes C-Section
The pregnant women who suffer of vitamin D deficiency present 4 times more risk of imposing a C-section than the other women.
Also, due to the installation of vaginal infection, pregnant women might be forced to give birth before term.
Other beneficial effects proven of vitamin D:
- Decreasing the risk of giving birth to a rickety child.
- Decreasing the risk of developing rickets during childhood
- Decreasing the risk of diabetes.
- Combating multiple sclerosis.
- Reducing the risk of certain types of cancer.
Do I Need a Vitamin D Supplement during Pregnancy?
It`s recommended to take a supplement that contains 10 mcg of vitamin D during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
It`s very common for women to have lower levels of vitamin D than the recommended doses. One out of 4 women with ages between 19 and 24 years, and 1 out of 6 with ages between 25 and 34 years have lower levels of vitamin D than the recommended dose. This means that they risk having a deficiency of vitamin D. – Learn more!
You have more changes of having a low level of vitamin D, and need a supplement, if:
- You originate from Southeast Asia, Africa, Caribbean or the Middle East.
- You don`t expose yourself enough to the sun; for instance, if you cover, when you are outside, or you always wear sunscreen.
- You don`t eat enough foods rich in vitamin D, such as fish oil, eggs, meat, breakfast cereals.
- You have a body mass index of 30 or greater.
What Happens when Vitamin D Is Low?
Bone pain and muscle weakness may signal a lack of vitamin D. Still, in the case of lots of persons, symptoms are subtle. The low levels of vitamin D in the blood have been associated with:
- Increased risk of death due to cardiovascular diseases.
- Cognitive disorders in older persons.
- Severe bronchial asthma in children.
Research suggests that vitamin D may have an important role in preventing and treating various medical conditions, including type 1 and type 2 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, high blood pressure and glucose intolerance.