Mothers to Be, Get Your Vitamin D in Pregnancy

By on September 5, 2009
vitamin d in pregnancy

Should you be Concerned about Vitamin D in Pregnancy? When we speak of disease and health, we often think that people who are healthy are ‘lucky’ and people who are unhealthy as ‘unlucky’. But the debate is beginning to tip towards the fact that environmental factors influence genetics more than we can ever imagine, and luck of the genes has less to do with health than environmental factors. Vitamin D as an environmental factor in our health is not debated, only HOW MUCH of a factor in our health is what is debated.

Vitamin D deficiency has long been associated with osteoporosis, but most of us think of osteoporosis as starting in older age. Since women are particularly affected, it’s often that vitamin d and calcium supplementation is begun after menopause to help prevent the associated fractures of osteoporosis. But women in their pre reproductive and reproductive years need to be supplemented too, less for themselves, but more for the health of their offspring. While most of the emphasis in public health has been on folic acid during pregnancy, for some just like Vitamin B12 in Pregnancy, the importance of Vitamin D in pregnancy seems to have been ignored. Several studies have shown that Levels of Vitamin D During Pregnancy can determine bone mass and risk of fracture as an adult! Disturbingly, Deficiency of vitamin d and pregnancy is rampant among pregnant women and it could be having devastating consequences on the youngest generations.

“Vitamin D supplementation of pregnant women,
especially during winter months, could lead to
longlasting reductions in the risk of
osteoporotic fracture in their offspring.”

‘Maternal vitamin D status during pregnancy and
childhood bone mass at age 9 years: a longitudinal study’


 Vitamin D in Pregnancy for Baby’s Mental Health

Bone strength isn’t the only health issue that seems to be already determined by our mother’s intake of vitamin D in pregnancy, our mental health is also affected. Schizophrenia has long been associated with vitamin d levels due to its odd characteristic of occurring more frequently in those born in winter or early spring. This association is not just coincidental; vitamin D levels in the womb affect the health of the baby, even much later in life. Even a child’s lungs are affected by a mother’s vitamin D levels. Asthma, a common childhood problem, has been linked to Low Vitamin D and Pregnancy. The Journal ‘Clinical and Experimental Allergy’ published an article entitled, ‘Childhood asthma is a fat-soluble vitamin deficiency disease.’ which outlines this strong link between vitamin D and childhood asthma.

“Careful attention to maternal vitamin D status
could translate into diverse improvements in health
outcomes for the following generation”

Professor John McGrath: Queensland Centre for Schizophrenia Research,
Wolston Park Hospital, Wacol, Queensland, Australia

Long Term Health From Deficiency of Vitamin D in Pregnancy

An even larger health problem in the younger generations could also be the result of maternal vitamin D deficiency or Deficiency of Vitamin D and Breastfeeding. ‘Syndrome X’ is a collection of signs that include:

  • Increased insulin resistance
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Central obesity

Together, these problems give sufferers an increased risk of acquiring diabetes and heart attacks later in life. Children are acquiring Syndrome X at such an alarming rate and at younger and younger ages, that public health policies and awareness campaigns are being put into place in many areas to deal with this dangerous problem. None of these, however, mention vitamin D supplementation as a possible solution to this growing problem.

vitamin d in pregnancy is vitalThese diseases are only the beginning of the conditions that researchers have put forward as problems of Low Vitamin D in pregnancy. Multiple sclerosis, diabetes, breast cancer, colon cancer, autism and autoimmune disorders have all been associated with vitamin d deficiency and are candidates for future long term studies of how vitamin d deficiency in infants could affect their incidences in later life.

Unfortunately, these long term studies, even if started immediately, wouldn’t yield conclusive results for decades. In the meantime, women are simply not getting enough vitamin D during pregnancy. With current recommendations in the US for pregnant women at only 800 IU’s per day, this is in stark contrast to many studies that urgently recommend dosages of between 4000 IU’s to 6500 IU’s a day for pregnant and lactating women. This suggests that a woman needs Vitamin D Supplements in an amount eight times higher than she is getting in order to prevent vitamin d deficiency in infants and herself to prevent many of these chronic illnesses that plague so many of us, and that are growing by leaps and bounds in ever younger and younger children.

“Deficiency of Vitamin D in pregnancy not only
is linked to maternal skeletal preservation and fetal skeletal formation but also is vital
to the fetal ‘imprinting’ that may affect chronic disease susceptibility
later in life as well as soon after birth”

Bruce W Hollis, PhD
With all of the research that is coming out about vitamin D and so many other diseases, it’s likely that the link between vitamin d and pregnancy and diseases such as diabetes and cancer later in life is much stronger than we know. But without swift policy changes by medical associations and governments the spread of these vitamin D related diseases will continue to rise, even as these incredibly inexpensive Vitamin D Supplements are literally just a click away.



About Kerri Knox, RN

The author is a Registered Nurse and Functional Medicine Practitioner. With 20 years of experience in health care, she has the unique perspective of being solidly grounded in both Conventional Medicine and Alternative Medicine. She can help you to to find and repair the underlying causes of chronic illness, while empowering you to take charge of your own health. She is the owner and author of this blog and website.
Comments' sandra says:

I'm 32 weeks pregnant and when my doctor heard that I am supplementing with vitamin D3, she was very concerned and advised against it. I had my D3 levels checked about a month ago and they were 25 ng/mL, which makes me vitamin D3 deficient. I had been taking 4000 IU of vitamin D3 for about 3 months by then, and decided to take 6000 IU from that day on, because I was concerned that 4000 IU is too low for me and that my baby and I needed more so that my D3 levels could reach the optimum of 50-80 ng/mL). In the meantime I've read more on the subject because I went down with a cold and am worried a bit about the flu (didn't want to get vaccinated), so now I'm taking 10000 IU/day. Is that too much?! I don't have anyone else to seek advice from, my doctors have no idea about the new research and would freak out if I told them how much I'm taking. 🙂 I plan to breastfeed and I want to do what's best for my baby… 4000 IU was obviously not an adequate dose for me since after 3 months of taking it my levels were 25 ng/mL, right? Thank you in advance.

KerriKnoxRN says:

Hi Sandra,

While I can't TELL you how much you should take, you are certainly right that 4000 IU's wasn't enough for you due to your levels. It's not enough for MOST adults, let alone a pregnant woman whose needs are even higher than an 'average' person. But I would encourage you to take a look at my page on vitamin d and breastfeeding here:

and take a look at the chart that I've made that shows the amount of vitamin d in breast milk at different dosages. That will give you an idea of AT LEAST how much you need in order to supply your impending baby with enough vitamin d to meet THEIR needs and your in utero needs couldn't be any lower than what you would need for breastfeeding.

You are brave striking out on your own despite what your doctors are telling you, and it's extremely sad to hear that doctors and not even just not telling woman about vitamin d during preganancy, but actively discouraging them from taking dosages that are almost surely more beneficial for them and their baby than taking the completely inadequate dosages that they are recommending…

Kerri Knox

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