Vitamin D During Pregnancy

Nutrition is an important cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle, and this is particularly true of pregnancies where you are effectively ‘eating for two’. During a pregnancy there are particular substances which you are likely to need in higher than usual quantities, some of these are known as micronutrients, so called because you usually only need very small amounts of these to maintain your health. Vitamin D is one such micronutrient, and this article details why this substance is so important during a pregnancy.

What is vitamin D?

Vitamin D is an interesting vitamin because it cannot only be obtained through a healthy, but can in fact be synthesised by your body upon exposure to sunlight. As mentioned above, vitamin D is one of many micronutrients that your body needs to function as it should, and is readily available from a number of dietary sources.

There are actually four different types of vitamin D, numbered one through four, each of which is subtly different in scientific terms. For the purposes of this article the term ‘vitamin D’ refers to the main dietary form of this vitamin, which is known as D3 or Cholecalciferol.

Why is vitamin D so important?

Vitamin D has long since been known to be an important element in the development and maintenance of healthy bones, but more recently other, more far reaching roles have been discovered. Vitamin D is involved in maintaining bone density, a characteristic which provides bone with its strength and thereby prevents fractures and the softness associated with vitamin D deficiency.

Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to illnesses like multiple sclerosis and cancer, however whether this deficiency is a consequence of these illnesses or a causative factor remains a subject of contention. Similarly vitamin D is thought to be involved to some extent in HIV infections (HIV is the human immune virus which causes AIDS) and asthma.

The role of vitamin D in pregnancy

Making sure that you are getting the amount of vitamin D you need is important during a pregnancy as it has been linked to foetal bone health and future sensitivity to vitamin D and its effects on bone strength. As such vitamin D is one of those micronutrients you will be told about early on during a pregnancy to make sure that you are supplementing correctly. Whether or not you take in vitamin D

What is vitamin D deficiency?

Abnormally low levels of vitamin D cause a condition called rickets, which is known medically as osteomalacia. The condition typically involves a softening of bones to the point where they are susceptible to fractures, and begin to bend and curve under pressure. This is why rickets sufferers will present with characteristically curved leg bones as these begin to buckle under their body weight.

Sources of vitamin D

Many foods like breakfast cereals and milk are now fortified with essential vitamins like vitamin D to avoid deficiency in the general public, which is why vitamin D deficiencies are relatively uncommon in the UK.

Oily fish are a great source of vitamin D, and these include sardines, tuna, salmon, and mackerel amongst others. Eggs and mushrooms are another good source, and as such should form part of a balanced diet.

You can supplement vitamin D if it is lacking in your diet by means of multi-vitamin tablets, or if you are pregnant, prenatal vitamins, which ensure that you are receiving adequate amounts of this important nutrient .That being said however, you should be careful not to ingest too much vitamin D as this can lead to potentially detrimental effects for you and, if you are pregnant, your unborn child.

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