Vitamin D is synthesized naturally in the body when sunlight hits the skin. It’s estimated that 30 minutes in the sun during peak UV light can create 20,000 IU of vitamin D. But most people living in northern areas can’t get this amount of sunlight, so doctors now suggest getting vitamin D via supplements.
Vitamin D is directly needed to absorb calcium absorption and for bone growth. A vitamin D deficiency in children causes rickets or soft bones. In adults, a vitamin D deficiency causes misshapen and fragile bones.
Dr. Michael Holick, is a professor, Director of the General Clinical Research Center at Boston University School of Medicine and Director of the Bone Healthcare Clinic at Boston Medical Center and internationally recognized expert on Vitamin D and it’s properties. Dr. Holick’s analysis of the research studies about Vitamin D show an association between low levels of vitamin D and an increased risk for cancers, Type 21 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Dr. Holick recommends that adults take daily supplemental doses of Vitamin D of 800 -1000 IU to support immune system functioning.
A pregnant woman needs extra Vitamin D during pregnancy as the growing baby draws on her supply in order to build his own bones and teeth. For the mom, a deficiency in Vitamin D has been linked to a greater risk of pregnancy complications, including Gestational Diabetes and pre-eclampsia.
For the baby, a deficiency in Vitamin D during pregnancy can affect baby’s bone development and immune function after birth. Babies don’t have their own Vitamin D supply, so after birth, there will be a limited supply and then Vitamin D must be immediately supplied through either breast milk or a high quality formula.
Alison D. Gernand, PhD, MPH, and her colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and School of Medicine in Pennsylvania, studied data from 2100 women, conducting one of the largest studies of maternal Vitamin D levels and its relationship to birth weight.
The researchers found the infants of mothers with low blood serum levels of Vitamin D were small for gestational age (SGA).
The researchers say Vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy may cause low birth weight by reducing fetal bone growth, as there isn’t enough calcium being absorbed by the mom. Deficiency in Vitamin D may also cause interference in the growing fetus’ energy needs, as there is a decrease in the hormones needed for glucose conversion.
For optimal mom and baby health, take a good prenatal vitamin supplement to ensure that mom and baby maintain an adequate supply of Vitamin D.