Vitamin D in your pregnancy diet
Why you need vitamin D during pregnancy
Your body needs vitamin D to maintain proper levels of calcium and phosphorus, which help build your baby's bones and teeth. A vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy can cause growth retardation and skeletal deformities. It may also have an impact on birth weight.
If you're lacking vitamin D during pregnancy, your baby may be short on the vitamin at birth. This can put her at risk for rickets (which can lead to fractures and deformity), abnormal bone growth, and delayed physical development. And the results can be long lasting: Researchers believe that a vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy can affect bone development and immune function from birth through adulthood.
A deficiency of vitamin D has also been linked to a greater risk of pregnancy complications, including preeclampsia, and a higher likelihood of an expectant mom needing a c-section.
Vitamin D has been the topic of much research in recent years. Researchers are studying vitamin D's role in preventing a number of diseases. These include certain autoimmune diseases (type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis), osteoarthritis, cancers (especially colon cancer), gum disease, and high blood pressure.
How much vitamin D you need
The National Academy of Sciences currently recommends that pregnant women get 200 IUs (5 micrograms) of vitamin D each day if they're not exposed to adequate sunlight (your body makes vitamin D when exposed to the sun). Many experts believe this amount isn't nearly enough. And the National Academy of Sciences is reviewing its guidelines on vitamin D, so they may change.
"I recommend that pregnant women take a supplement of 4,000 IU of vitamin D a day. And I recommend that lactating women take a supplement of 6,000 IU daily," says Bruce Hollis, professor of pediatrics at the Medical University of South Carolina, who has researched vitamin D needs.
Food sources of vitamin D
Fish liver oil, fatty fish, and fortified milk, egg, and cereal products all contain vitamin D. Be sure to check food labels: Some eggs, cheeses, yogurts, and cereals are fortified while others aren't. All milk is vitamin D fortified.
Here are some of the best food sources of vitamin D:
- 3 ounces catfish, cooked: 570 IU
- 3.5 ounces salmon, cooked: 360 IU
- 3.5 ounces mackerel, cooked: 345 IU
- 3 ounces tuna fish, canned in oil: 200 IU
- 1.75 ounces sardines, canned in oil, drained: 250 IU
- 1 cup milk, fortified with 25% of daily value (DV) of vitamin D: 100 IU
- 1 cup orange juice, fortified with 25% of DV of vitamin D: 100 IU
- 1 cup fortified skim milk: 98 IU
- 1 tablespoon margarine, fortified: 60 IU
- 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal, fortified with 10% of DV of vitamin D: 40 IU
- 1 egg yolk: 20 IU
Share this article