Vitamin D plays an essential role in the body, enabling you to absorb calcium, and it has been linked to a healthier immune system and a lower risk of some kinds of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other health problems.
For these reasons, vitamin D is essential for staying healthy, yet many people (approximately half of the U.S. population) are deficient in vitamin D. This problem becomes even more acute for pregnant women because the fetus depends completely upon the mother as its source of vitamin D. Research suggests that vitamin D deficiency may be linked to problems during pregnancy and with the health of your baby. This makes it extremely important to get enough vitamin D during pregnancy.
Why Vitamin D Deficiency is Common
Vitamin D is available through some foods and through exposure to sunlight. You might think that it would be easy to get vitamin D regularly as long as you spend time outdoors. But a number of factors make it more difficult for your body to absorb the vitamin. Covering your skin or wearing sunscreen can prevent your skin from absorbing sunlight. In addition, people with darker skin or obesity may produce vitamin D less quickly. As an alternative to sunlight, you can take in vitamin D through food. The best sources of the vitamin are egg yolks and oily fish such as tuna, salmon, and sardines. Many people do not eat much of these foods, although they may get vitamin D through fortified dairy products. If you don’t regularly drink or eat foods fortified with vitamin D, however, you are likely not producing quite enough.
The Risks of Vitamin D Deficiency during Pregnancy
Vitamin D is essential to a fetus’s bone development. Pregnant mothers with vitamin D deficiencies may have an increased risk of rickets, bone fractures, and abnormal bone growth in their babies. Vitamin D deficiency may also increase the risk of preterm births, preeclampsia, and infections in newborns.
How to Get Vitamin D
You can increase your vitamin D levels naturally by eating foods that contain high levels of the vitamin and by getting regular sun exposure. The easiest way to get more vitamin D, however, is by taking a supplement. Researchers are still studying the ideal level of Vitamin D, but most recommend between 600 and 2000 IU (international units). You’ll get some vitamin D through a prenatal vitamin, but most only contain 400 IU. You can get from that to the recommended dosage by taking a vitamin D supplement. When choosing a supplement, cholecalciferol is the strongest form, but you’ll need to look for ergocalciferol if you’re a vegan; cholecalciferol is derived from animal products. If you want to find out if you have a vitamin D deficiency or are unsure of which supplement you should take, it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor.
Pregnancy tips to help you conceive
The time to start working toward a healthy pregnancy is before you conceive. If you are trying to get pregnant quick, our pregnancy tips are good start to get your body ready for conception process.
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