The fact is that many women today often begin their pregnancy with a vitamin-D deficiency. Depending on the time of the year and where you live in the world, your level might even go down during your pregnancy even though you supplement with prenatal vitamins.
Vitamin-D deficiency, a level lower than 25 ng/ML is associated with several chronic and acute diseases, such as Asthma, IBS, Autoimmune diseases, depression, and upper respiratory infections, among others. Studies have also shown that babies of mothers with vitamin-D deficiency have a higher risk of being diagnosed with Asthma later in life.
A study published in Acta Pedriatica in April 2015 (Issue 4) found that getting sufficient vitamin-D during pregnancy and early infancy reduced the number of primary care visits for the baby. Now, who doesn’t want that? Having an infant with respiratory infections or flu-like symptoms can be extremely difficult for parents to watch, not to mention the poor baby, who has to suffer with an infection.
Another long-term study, conducted by Bruce W. Hollis, PhD., Donna Johnson MD, and Carol L. Wagner MD, found that when pregnant women took 4000 ug of vitamin-D (yes 4000 ug that is not a typo), 10 X the amount in a prenatal vitamin, the amount was not only considered safe but also highly effective in preventing childhood asthma. Furthermore, the same study also showed that when breastfeeding mothers supplemented with 6000 ug during the time they breast fed their infants the amount of vitamin-D in their breastmilk was sufficient enough that their babies did not need to be supplemented with vitamin-D during the time they were being nursed.
So, what to do?
Well, the answer for sure is not to run to the nearest Walgreens or drugstore, buy vitamin-D, and start blindly supplementing. First of all, you should start by having your vitamin-D level tested. In fact, I would also recommend that to any women out there who want to get pregnant.
If your level is indeed below 25ng/ML, then yes you need to think about supplementing. The amount in most prenatal vitamins is 400 ug, which has shown to be insufficient if you are deficient and is only enough to keep you at satisfactory levels.
Now this is where you also have to take into account where you live in the world, how far away or close you are to the equator, and how much time you spend outside. Your vitamin D levels will also depend on what time of year you are pregnant, there is a big difference if you are pregnant during summer versus winter. The color of your skin also needs to be taken into account. As you can see, it is not an easy “one size fits all” solution and pregnant women need individual consultation and monitoring.
The best way to get vitamin-D is the sun.
About 20 minutes outside in the sun without sun screen can really help increase your levels. This is an “average” recommendation, women with lighter skin need less time in the sun to produce sufficient vitamin-D and women with dark skin need more time. IMPORTANT – be careful not to get a sun burn!
Foods like mushrooms, fatty fish, eggs, and cod liver oil are also good options to increase or maintain your level. Please keep in mind, however, that vitamin D is difficult to get from food.
If you are deficient, talk to your doctor, midwife, or make an appointment with me. I will help you get your levels up so that you can not only enjoy a healthy pregnancy but also have a healthier baby who does not have to suffer any consequences from a low level of vitamin D during pregnancy.