What is the Importance of Vitamin D During Pregnancy?

T. Broderick

Taking vitamin D during pregnancy reduces the likelihood that the mother will suffer complications such as infection, preterm birth and gestational diabetes. The developing baby also benefits greatly from increased vitamin D levels. Vitamin supplements are necessary as daily exposure to sunlight and eating foods with vitamin D may provide an insufficient amount. As the medical community has not yet come to a consensus on an appropriate daily dose, pregnant women should consult with their doctor before beginning vitamin D supplements.

Vitamin D can help ensure a healthy pregnancy.
Vitamin D can help ensure a healthy pregnancy.

For years, the benefits of prenatal vitamins have been common knowledge. Recent research into vitamin D, however, has shown that high doses administered in the second and third trimester halve occurrences of infection, preterm birth and gestational diabetes in mothers who experienced these complications in a previous pregnancy. Where complications do still occur, vitamin D lessens their severity, thus reducing the threat to mother and child. Vitamin D has the potential to ensure more full-term, healthy pregnancies.

Vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D supplements.

Taking vitamin D during pregnancy helps the developing child as well. A fetus exposed to sufficient levels of vitamin D will have greater bone density at birth than children whose mothers took too little vitamin D. Though further research is needed, initial findings suggest that children born with stronger bones have more protection later in life against conditions such as osteoporosis.

A prenant woman can buy vitamin D supplements at most supermarkets.
A prenant woman can buy vitamin D supplements at most supermarkets.

Though eating foods high in vitamin D and regular exposure to sunlight raises one's levels of vitamin D, the amount given by natural sources is often insufficient for both mother and child. To receive the full benefit of vitamin D during pregnancy, taking a daily vitamin D supplement in addition to a prenatal vitamin is required. As the medical community has not yet come to a consensus on the recommended daily dose of vitamin D, pregnant women should consult their doctor. Too much vitamin D can cause birth defects.

If a doctor approves a woman to take additional vitamin D during pregnancy, she can easily buy supplements at most supermarkets or health food stores. Vitamin D comes in either softgels or tablets; the difference does not cause any effect in the rate of absorption. The large number of manufacturers guarantees that a woman will be able to find vitamin D in an appropriate daily dose. As vitamin D is always measured in international units (IUs), there is no need to worry about making a conversion.

Pregnant women should always consult their gynecologist before taking large doses of vitamin D or any other dietary supplements.
Pregnant women should always consult their gynecologist before taking large doses of vitamin D or any other dietary supplements.

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Discussion Comments

Henry Lahore

Vitamin D is extremely important before, during and after pregnancy. Benefits of 2000 IU of vitamin D include:

For the mother: more likely to get pregnant, four times less likely to get preeclampsia, four times fewer C-sections.

For the child: three times lower incidence of Schizophrenia, five times fewer asthma cases, eight times less likely to get diabetes.

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