Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women Need More Vitamin D

Asked a question by one of you today, I looked into Vitamin D in pregnancy. Now, we all know by now that the whole population in Northern hemispheres like ours could do with more, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that pregnant and breastfeeding mums are no different.

First, I checked the Vitamin D Council’s take on it. They have published quite a strong piece on the subject. Here’s the intro and the full article can be read here:

Pregnancy and gestational vitamin D deficiency

In the last 3 years, an increasing amount of research suggests that some of the damage done by Vitamin D deficiency is done in-utero, while the fetus is developing. Much of that damage may be permanent, that is, it can not be fully reversed by taking Vitamin D after birth. This research indicates Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy endangers the mother’s life and health, and is the origin for a host of future perils for the child, especially for the child’s brain and immune system. Some of the damage done by maternal Vitamin D deficiency may not show up for 30 years.

They then go on to outline some of the risks for mums and babies and make a plea to get more pregnant mums to check and boost their Vitamin D if necessary. Sound advice.

Next, I looked at the safety data for Vitamin D in pregnancy. Here are the guidelines I have:

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Many pregnant women around the world have been found to be vitamin D deficient. The recommended adequate intake for pregnant women is the same as for nonpregnant adults. Most prenatal vitamins provide 400 IU daily of vitamin D as cholecalciferol. Some authors have suggested that requirements during pregnancy may be greater than these amounts, particularly in sun-deprived individuals, although this has not been clearly established. Risk factors for developing vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy include darker pigmentation, sunscreen use, clothing, latitude, seasons, obesity, race, ethnicity, and low intake of fortified vitamin D milk intake. Due to risks of vitamin D toxicity, any consideration of higher daily doses of vitamin D should be discussed with a physician. Vitamin D deficiency may increase complications in the mother and infant.
  • In mothers who are receiving vitamin D supplements and are breastfeeding, there may be an increased risk of urinary tract infection, particularly in the first three months.
  • Vitamin D is typically low in maternal milk, and to prevent deficiency and rickets in exclusively breastfed infants, supplementation may be necessary, starting within the first two months of life. Many lactating women have been found to be vitamin D deficient. 

So, the advice: the likelihood is that most pregnant women could do with more Vitamin D, but it is best to test via your GP or using the Vitamin D Status test and then make decisions based on that and with your GP’s knowledge and say-so.

For the rest of the Pregnancy Programme I recommend, check here: Pregnancy Factsheet in the A-Z health on the clinic site. I haven’t had a chance to update it recently but all the info is there.

Gosh, there is always SO much to look up!

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