Did you know that many prenatal vitamins do not contain enough vitamin D to prevent deficiency in pregnancy?
Most prenatal vitamins only contain 400 to 600 IU of vitamin D, which simply isn’t enough to keep your vitamin D at normal levels without regular midday sun exposure.
Worse, studies suggest the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women worldwide ranges between 20-85% with rates of deficiency maxing out at 98% in some regions (1,2). That is a massive cause for concern, because Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy puts you at higher risk for pre-eclampsia, low birth weight babies, and gestational diabetes (3,4).
Vitamin D is the only vitamin that we make from the sun, and sun exposure is our main source of it; not our diet. For many women still fearing moderate sun exposure and covering themselves in sunscreen and protective clothing, getting enough vitamin D can be tricky. With those huge rates of deficiency and the safety of supplementing with vitamin D, I believe all expecting mums should be screened for vitamin D deficiency. If you’re pregnant and your doctor hasn’t already screened for it, do yourself and your baby a favour and have your blood tested.
If you’re trying to conceive, already pregnant, or lactating and you’re ever unsure about your nutritional requirements and how to reach them, please see a university qualified dietitian, nutritionist or naturopath for advice.
Casey Conroy is an accredited practising dietitian, holistic nutritionist, yoga and AcroYoga teacher who loves kale sautéed in butter and dark chocolate. She is the founder of Funky Forest Health & Wellbeing on the Gold Coast, and advocates a practical, delicious, and light-hearted approach to nutrition and detoxification.
(1) Bodnar, Lisa M et al. “High prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in black and white pregnant women residing in the northern United States and their neonates.” The Journal of Nutrition 137.2 (2007): 447-452.
(2) Dawodu, Adekunle, and Reginald C Tsang. “Maternal vitamin D status: effect on milk vitamin D content and vitamin D status of breastfeeding infants.” Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal 3.3 (2012): 353-361.
(3) Wei, Shu-Qin et al. “Maternal vitamin D status and adverse pregnancy outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine 26.9 (2013): 889- 899.
(4) Aghajafari, Fariba et al. “Association between maternal serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level and pregnancy and neonatal outcomes: systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies.”BMJ: British Medical Journal 346 (2013).
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