The Benefits of Taking Vitamin D during Pregnancy

Vitamin D and Pregnancy. Vitamin D is necessary vitamin for every living human being. We are most likely to obtain this vitamin from the sunlight, fortified milk or dairy products, or vitamin supplements/prenatal vitamins. However, based on the new recommended daily allowances, it is impossible for us to obtain all the vitamin D we need from diet alone.  Hence, a majority of us are Vitamin D deficient.  This may be due to working long hours, weather and climate changes, or just having a busy schedule. While it is important for everyone to obtain adequate amounts of Vitamin D, it especially important for expecting mothers to take Vitamin D during their pregnancy.

The recommended daily allowance of Vitamin D was recently changed from 220 IU to 600 IU.  If you are an expecting mom, you may be thinking that you take your multivitamin everyday like clockwork, so you have nothing to worry about.  WRONG!  The average multivitamin includes 300-400 IU. Researchers are now finding that the average adult needs even more than that recommended daily allowance and propose taking 1,000 IU a day.  And, to make up for any deficiency, one will need to take 4,000-5,000 IU daily, such as NOW Foods Vitamin D3 5000 IU.

Pregnant women are no exception to this rule. Pregnant women need to take at least 4,000 IU of Vitamin D daily to decrease their risk of developing gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.  Additionally, vitamin D can help lower the expecting mothers’ risk of vaginal, periodontal, and respiratory infections. A longitudinal study reported individuals whose mothers had adequate amounts of Vitamin D while pregnant with them are less likely to have osteoporosis symptoms later in life. 

Breast feeding is not a good method for an infant to obtain Vitamin D if the mother is deficient.  However, if the mother is not vitamin deficient and decides to breast feed, researchers suggest the mother takes 6,400 IU daily to ensure the infant obtains enough Vitamin D.  Also, one can augment breast-feeding by providing Baby Vitamin D drops.

Those with darker complexions (i.e., African-American, Hispanic, and Indian) are at a higher risk of being Vitamin D deficient due to the increased levels of melanin in their skin.  This melanin prevents the sun’s rays from being absorbed into the skin for it to produce adequate amounts of Vitamin D.  Because of this, it is thought that 100% of all African-American women are Vitamin D deficient.  

Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency include low energy, fatigue, weakness, pain, depression, and mood swings.  This condition is called osteomalacia in which there is a softening of the bones.  These symptoms may be masked in pregnant women, since fatigue, weakness, and mood swings are all pregnancy symptoms.  Once one begins taking the appropriate amount of Vitamin D, deficiency symptoms should dissipate in 2-6 months. 

Additionally, many pregnant women gain a few extra pounds during this period of time, and some gain more than a few extra pounds.  If this sounds familiar, excess weight can be a culprit of Vitamin D deficiency since a large portion of the vitamin produced often gets stored in the body’s fat.  When this happens, there is not enough Vitamin D circulating in the body’s bloodstream to build and strengthen the bones.  

The benefits of Vitamin D are limitless and as research continues more of these benefits will be uncovered.  If you are an expecting mom, please take your Vitamin D!

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