Ensuring you have the right levels of vitamin D in pregnancy is essential for yours and your baby’s health. This vital vitamin supports bones, muscle, and immune health. Discover just how important it is to have enough vitamin D in pregnancy and while breastfeeding, and how to find the right supplements for you.
Table of Contents:
- Why You Need Vitamin D in Pregnancy
- How Does Vitamin D Contribute to Pregnancy
- 5 Essential Answers About Vitamin D in Pregnancy
- How to Increase Vitamin D in Pregnancy with Supplements
- How Do I Ensure My Child Has Enough Vitamin D?
Why You Need Vitamin D in Pregnancy
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient which contributes to your body’s functions at every stage of life. It is responsible for strong bones, healthy muscles, and an effective immune system. Given these benefits of vitamin D, it is clear why the nutrient is needed during pregnancy. During this time, your body requires vitamin D supplements to support the growth and development of your baby.
Every nutrient your growing bundle of joy gets, comes from you. Therefore, it’s very important to consider whether you are receiving enough vitamin D in pregnancy. As well as the key pregnancy supplements needed for you to remain healthy during this magical time.
How Does Vitamin D Contribute to Pregnancy
Vitamin D in pregnancy works to strengthen your child’s bones. It does this by encouraging the maintenance of calcium and phosphate in the bones and teeth. Once the baby is born, the importance of vitamin D remains high, especially if breastfeeding. This is due to you still being your child’s main source of vitamins. Vitamin D in pregnancy is also just as important for you, as having the right levels can reduce your risk of pre-eclampsia.
5 Essential Answers About Vitamin D in Pregnancy
We’ve put together the top 5 things you need to know about vitamin D in pregnancy to make your journey to parenthood that little bit easier. Here are questions you might have and wish to consider:
1. How Can I Get Vitamin D During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding?
90% of our essential vitamin D should come from our skin's exposure to the sun. Our bodies make vitamin D in the skin when exposed to the sun’s rays. This is what has earnt vitamin D the nickname of the “sunshine vitamin”. Increasing your time in the sun could help you obtain vitamin D in pregnancy.
However, skin cancer fears have led to frequent sunscreen use. In fact, creams higher than factor 15 block vitamin D absorption. It's believed that this sunscreen use may have caused vitamin D deficiency to soar to new heights. Whilst protecting our skin from the damage of the sun is important it may mean you don’t get enough vitamin D in pregnancy. Due to our indoor lifestyles, you could look for other ways to increase your vitamin D levels during pregnancy.
2. Which Food Sources are Rich in Vit D?
Diet is one of the common ways you can find vitamin D in pregnancy. However, just 10% of vitamin D comes from our diet. Foods rich in the “sunshine vitamin” which are safe to to eat during pregnancy include:
- Oily fish such as tuna, salmon, etc - You are advised to be more careful of smoked fish, but cooked fish and seafood should be safe to eat.
- Eggs - You may be recommended to eat fully cooked eggs where possible. Raw, or partially cooked eggs are safe to eat if they contain the British Lion stamp.
- Meat - Ensure your meats are well-cooked, with no traces of pink or blood. Or are cold pre-cooked meats such as ham and corned beef. Avoid raw meats and be careful with cured meats.
- Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, etc - Hard cheeses and pasteurised products tend to be safe, as well as a variety of some unpasteurised dairy products. For a full list of what to avoid seek medical advice from your Doctor or the foods to avoid on the NHS website.
- Fortified foods such as cereals, breads, & juices
Increasing, where possible, your intake of these sources of vitamin D could help you increase your vitamin D levels in pregnancy. Remember to follow the guidelines provided by your Doctor.
3. At What Stages of Parenthood Should I Consider Supplementation?
The NHS recommends all those pregnant and breastfeeding use a vitamin D supplement all year round. Vitamin D supplements for pregnancy are an effortless way to boost your levels. Low vitamin D levels can have a major impact on expectant parents and the foetus. Conception vitamins can help those preparing to become parents to increase their vitamin D for pregnancy.
Research now shows that those who are pregnant and have low levels of vitamin D may have higher rates of pregnancy-related health conditions. These conditions include preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, birth by caesarean section and a lowering of the immune system. Whilst, babies born with insufficient vitamin D levels may suffer from conditions such as rickets.
Dr Benjamin Jacobs says: “Vitamin D is especially important for mums-to-be and new mums. During pregnancy, or when breastfeeding, mothers need extra Vitamin D to maintain their own bone health, as well as providing nutrients to their baby.”
4. How Can I Check My Vitamin D Levels?
If you're concerned about your levels of vitamin D in pregnancy, you can take a vitamin D blood test. With BetterYou, checking whether you are at risk of deficiency or low levels is easier than ever. Our at-home health checks require a small blood sample, then are sent off to be tested.
Testing your vitamin D is carried out using liquid chromatography mass spectrometry to measure the vitamin D in the blood. A clear interpretation of the nutrient level is then sent to you around five days later, with a complimentary supplement based on your results. However, we do recommend talking to your Doctor if you are worried about vitamin D in pregnancy.
5. How Much Vitamin D to Take When Pregnant?
A Maternal Vitamin D Osteoporosis study found that the health of babies' bones could be improved by giving mothers a daily dose of 1000 iu (international units) of vitamin D whilst pregnant.
Dr Benjamin Jacobs says: "That was one of the most important pieces of scientific research ever performed in this field. Until now authorities in the UK only recommended 400 units of Vitamin D daily in pregnancy, but this study showed that 1000 units is safe, and probably more beneficial.”
It’s important to acknowledge the safe upper limits when supplementing, and always listen to the medical advice of your Doctor.
How to Increase Vitamin D in Pregnancy with Supplements
Both vitamin D supplements and folic acid supplements are recommended by health professionals to be taken during the first trimester. Although it is advisable to supplement vitamin D throughout pregnancy, due to its impact on bone health and the immune system.
Our Pregnancy Oral Spray delivers 3000IU of vitamin D, along with the recommended 400mcg of Folic Acid. It also contains iron, iodine, vitamin K2 and vitamin B12. These help to support maternal tissue growth and normal function of the immune system, whilst contributing to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue by boosting energy levels naturally. As an oral spray does not require food or water to be taken, it is easy to use on the go. It’s also a great option for those experiencing morning sickness, as it does not rely on primary absorption through the digestive system. Our pill-free supplements are an effective, hassle-free way to increase vitamin D in pregnancy.
How Do I Ensure My Child Has Enough Vitamin D?
Once your little one arrives you still need to keep their vitamin D levels up as you did in pregnancy. Vitamin D is important in breastfeeding, as this can help your little one receive their vital intake of vitamin D. During your baby’s first months, if you breastfeed your intake of vitamin D will still directly impact your child’s levels. Therefore, if your levels are low you should consider taking a breastfeeding supplement or giving your baby a supplement.
If you are bottle feeding, our baby vitamins and children’s vitamins feature an Infant Vitamin D Oral Spray. This is suitable for newborns and kids up to the age of 3, provided they are not consuming more than 500ml of fortified infant formula daily.
Supplementing with BetterYouAt BetterYou, we specialise in nutritional supplementation. Support your healthy lifestyle, from magnesium supplements to help your muscles, to sleep supplements for a peaceful night’s rest.