The rate of vitamin D deficiency is increasing among Australians, especially mothers in the preconception, conception and pregnancy and lactating stages. It’s extremely important to request vitamin D tests from your doctor when you have blood tests during these stages. Our practitioners look closely at clients blood results and they often find that people are low or extremely low in vitamin D and may have to have a high dose prescription to remedy it.
The importance of vitamin D during pregnancy
Often referred to as a hormone, Vitamin D is essential to human life due to the import roles it plays in assisting the functions of calcium as well as many vital cellular functions. Vitamin D is found the cells of the skin and it needs to be activated by the UV light of the sun before it can perform its functions. Vitamin D assists with bone growth and the development and regulation of the immune system (Karras, Wagner & Castracane, 2018).
Vitamin D deficiency during preconception can impact the first stage of pregnancy. Vitamin D is involved in the regulation of protein metabolism and in the adjustments of the immune system, these vital responses contribute to the embryo implantation and regulating the secretion of pregnancy hormones (Hollis, 2019)
How much do you need?
It is recommended to have 5-10 micrograms of Vitamin D per day when pregnant and lactating. This is equivalent to 15-30 minutes of sun exposure with exposed arms, hands and face per day. Babies also require 30 minutes to 2 hours per week of sun exposure (Nutritional Reference Values, 2014)
Low vitamin D during pregnancy has been linked with pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes in women during pregnancy and low birth weight and impaired skeletal development such as rickets in the baby (Specker, 2004). Allergic diseases and lung conditions in the early years of life are often associated with mothers that have low vitamin D levels during pregnancy.
Most at Risk of Deficiency
Women who wear veils and stay completely covered up are at risk of being vitamin D deficient due a decrease in sun exposure, as well as those who work predominantly in an indoor setting and have limited outdoor time. Women with naturally darker skin are also at risk because the melanin does not absorb as much UV radiation from the sun. Low vitamin D levels are often seen in women pregnant in the winter months due to lower sun exposure (Dawodu et al, 2013)
We recommend you consult with your doctor when you are requesting blood tests to have them order one for vitamin D. A deficiency state may not occur so you may not be able to detect you are deficient until you have chronic conditions. Although some foods provide vitamin D, the best source is the sun. As sun exposure can be potentially harmful, we recommend sticking to the 15-30 mins of exposure as mentioned above.
Thanks for reading, we hope this is useful in your pregnancy journey.