Preeclampsia & rickets are few of the complications associated.
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that helps the body to manage levels of calcium and phosphate, which are needed to keep bones and teeth healthy.
Vitamin D is also known as the “sunshine vitamin” because the body synthesizes the vitamin after being exposed to sunshine. To produce the body’s requirement of vitamin D, 10 to 15 minutes of sunshine 3 times a week is sufficient. However, many populations living in sunny climates still do not make enough vitamin D and need more from their diet or supplementation. The two major forms of vitamin D are vitamin D2 or ergocalciferol and vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol.
Sources of Vitamin D
- butter, cheese, cream, fortified milk, bread, and yogurt,
- fortified cereals,
- oily fish, herring and salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna.
Importance of Vitamin D in Pregnant Women
The Food Standards Agency recommends women to take a supplement containing 10 mcg of vitamin D during pregnancy and while breastfeeding as vitamin D plays a crucial role in pregnancy because prenatal deficiencies can lead to early childhood tooth decay.
Vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy has also been associated with preeclampsia, rickets and other musculoskeletal and health complications in children and lower bone density in toddlers.
A study reported (published in American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology on August 9, 2010) that women who develop a severe form of pregnancy-related high blood pressure (preeclampsia) tend to show lower levels of vitamin D in the blood. Besides sudden increase in blood pressure, preeclampsia is also associated with protein in the urine due to pressure on the kidneys. This condition is contributing approximately 15% of preterm births in U.S. every year.
Preeclampsia occurs between weeks 26 and 36, when it is referred to as ‘early-onset preeclampsia’ but it can also occur up to six weeks following birth. It is a severe form that ascends before the 34th week of pregnancy.
The study further reported that compared with healthy pregnant women, vitamin D levels were generally lower among women with early severe preeclampsia highlighting the need for further research on vitamin D and its impact on pregnant women.
Prevention of Vitamin D Deficiency in Pregnant Women
The possible way to prevent vitamin D deficiency is that pregnant women must consume adequate vitamin D rich supplements apart from other required supplements.