By: Dr. Jennifer Fitzgerald, ND
Vitamin D is a hot topic these days, and recent studies on vitamin D status in pregnant women and infants are worrisome. In a recent study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, it was found that 87 percent of newborns and 67 percent of mothers were significantly Vitamin D deficient. The same researchers also found that three major pregnancy complications, diabetes, high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia, were reduced by 30 percent in mothers who supplemented vitamin D during pregnancy. These women also reduced their risk of preterm births by 50 percent and had 25 percent fewer infections (including colds, flu, vaginal and gum infections) throughout their pregnancies. The infants also benefited from the supplementation; there were fewer “small for date” births, colds and less eczema. Vitamin D is essential for proper bone development in the fetus, and current studies are looking at its role in the prevention of multiple sclerosis.
Many women assume that their doctors or midwives are testing for this important vitamin routinely, but unfortunately, this is not the case. While some health providers are taking the initiative, it is not standard practice (yet). In my practice, I recommend testing vitamin D levels in all pregnant (and non-pregnant) patients and almost everyone I test has less than optimal levels with about 20 percent significantly deficient. Don’t assume that your levels have been tested, ask your healthcare provider!
Vitamin D levels are dependent on several factors including geographic location, skin colour and exposure to sunlight. This makes it very difficult to recommend adequate supplement dosages to the general population. The best way to determine your levels and what supplementation is appropriate for you and your baby is to have your levels tested.