Vitamin D can help to maintain bone and muscle strength, as well as aiding your body in the absorption of calcium from foods. Those who suffer from a vitamin D deficiency will usually not notice and they may not feel any different from normal, though in some cases you may have sore or weak muscles and bones. During your pregnancy, vitamin D will also help to develop the bones of your baby. If you are deficient in vitamin D during pregnancy, the amount of calcium in your baby’s bones will be affected, and in severe cases can cause rickets, a bone deformity.
Ways to Obtain Vitamin D During Pregnancy
- • From the sun
Most of our vitamin D is made from a reaction in our skin by ultraviolet rays emitted from the sun. If you have very little exposure to the sun, by staying indoors or covering your skin, you may be at risk of vitamin D deficiency. While it is important to get enough sunlight, you must also be aware of the risks associated with sun exposure such as skin cancer, so precautions will need to be taken. The amount of sun exposure to provide the right levels of vitamin D will depend on your skin colour and type. Fair-skinned people may make enough vitamin D through as little as a few minutes exposure each day during the summer, and up to three hours a week during the winter. People with darker skin generally need more sunlight, and people with very dark skin may need at least three times as much sunlight to produce enough vitamin D.
- • From food
Some foods do contain vitamin D, though this will not solely provide enough to meet the body’s requirements. The vitamin D found in food will only provide roughly 10% of the amount most people require. Vitamin D can be found in eggs and some oily fish like sardines or mackerel, and small amounts are added to some brands of milk and margarine in Australia. While vitamin D is present in liver and cod liver oil, it is not recommended to consume this during pregnancy due to the high levels of vitamin A present.
Along with vitamin D, calcium is also essential for the bone health of both mother and baby. A good source of calcium is dairy products like milk, cheese and yoghurt, some calcium rich vegetables like broccoli, or calcium-supplemented soy products. It is recommended to consume 2-3 servings per day.
Treatments for Vitamin D Deficiency
Your levels of vitamin D can be tested with a blood test, and if your level is too low, Vitamin D supplements may be advised. The most common supplements taken are Ostelin and OsteVit-D these both contain the same amount of vitamin D, and your dose will be prescribed by your obstetrician. It is recommended that you get your vitamin D levels checked occasionally. If the mother is deficient in vitamin D During pregnancy, the baby may need to have extra administered after the birth. A liquid multivitamin, Pentavite, is available from pharmacies, and a paediatrician will advise a suitable dose should it be required.