Vitamin D and pregnancy

More and more research is hitting the headlines regarding the importance of vitamin D. If you are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, it is essential that you keep up to date with current findings and nutritional recommendations for pregnant women. However this is often easier said than done.

Vitamin D in pregnancy

Here we will look at what the current recommendations for vitamin D are and why this nutrient is so important during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

About vitamin D

Vitamin D is actually classified as a hormone, as it is made in our bodies when the sun’s UV rays come into contact with our skin. We obtain some vitamin D from foods – oily fish and fortified foods (breakfast cereals, margarine), but the key ingredient to maintaining healthy vitamin D levels is sunlight.

Why is vitamin D important?

We need vitamin D to help regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in our bodies and in turn develop healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin D is also thought to help the body fight off infections and may reduce the risk of Type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and some cancers.

Vitamin D and pregnancy

During pregnancy vitamin D status is especially important, as it is not only needed for the maintenance of mum’s health and bones, but also for the healthy development of your growing
baby. Being vitamin D deficient whilst you are pregnant can reduce the amount of calcium absorbed into baby’s bones and teeth. Additionally, if mum has low vitamin D levels, then baby will be born with low vitamin D status and this may result in frequent fits or the development of rickets and weak
bones.

So what should I do?

  • Ensure you are having oily fish once or twice a week (but no more than this during pregnancy).
  • Try and get out in the sunlight for at least 20 minutes a day (without skin protection) during the months of April to September and the hours of 10.00am-3.00pm. Make sure that you cover up after 20 minutes to avoid getting burnt.
  • Take a 10mcg supplement of vitamin D daily throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding. Make sure you are not taking two or more supplements containing vitamin D: ask your health visitor or GP if you are unsure.

For more advice about vitamin D and your children, see our article on Is my toddler getting enough Vitamin D?

Further information on Vitamin D can be found at SR Nutrition’s additional blog post on Vitamin D

For more information see Charlotte Stirling-Reed on SR Nutrition and +Charlotte Stirling-Reed

Photography: Montse PB @Flickr

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