Even mothers that spend plenty of time in the sun can be at risk for vitamin D deficiency. Though it’s not the first thing many women think of, a lack of vitamin D can have severe effects on your you and your baby during your pregnancy. More than 19% of newborns receive their supply of vitamin D from their mother, and if the mother doesn’t have much to spare, then the child could be born with low birth weight or have an increased chance of rickets, which is a soft bone disease.
A study done with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece found that even mothers who live in climates with hot, sunny weather are still at risk of vitamin D deficiency and to prevent the deficiency, a proper diet much be maintained. The researchers say that women should eat oily fish during their pregnancy to help boost their levels of vitamin D, and supplements may also have to be taken as well.
In the United States, fish and seafood is often avoided during pregnancy because all seafood contains a certain amount of mercury, which is very harmful to fetuses. However, research suggests that children whose moms ingested plenty of omega-3s had fewer behavior problems, better verbal skills, and even higher IQs. If you want to stay away from mercury, but you need more omega-3, it’s recommended that you eat salmon. Salmon, no matter if it’s wild or farmed, contains lower levels of mercury and is one type of fish that has a high concentration of omega-3 oils. Herring, trout, and sardines are also low in mercury, but high in omega-3s.
Women with low levels of vitamin D during pregnancy can face as many issues as their children. Women are more at risk of preeclampsia, bacterial vaginosis, and gestational diabetes with a vitamin D deficiency. If you’re unable to eat enough vitamin D through your food and if you don’t like seafood, you might have to take supplements. The good news is that vitamin deficiency is easy to avoid if you’re aware of it. Talk to your doctor about Vitamin D deficiency and see what they recommend. If you end up taking a combination of vitamin D and fish oil supplements, it’s often a good idea to freeze your vitamins to avoid tasting fish all day, which isn’t a very pleasant sensation even if you aren’t pregnant.
- Spyridon N Karras, Iltaf Shah, Andrea Petroczi, Dimitrios G Goulis, Helen Bili, Fotini Papadopoulou, Vikentia Harizopoulou, Basil C Tarlatzis, Declan P Naughton. An observational study reveals that neonatal vitamin D is primarily determined by maternal contributions: implications of a new assay on the roles of vitamin D forms. Nutrition Journal, 2013; 12 (1): 77 DOI: 10.1186/1475-2891-12-77
- Kingston University (2013, June 22). Findings emphasize importance of vitamin D in pregnancy. ScienceDaily.
- Smith, Michael. "Low vitamin D dould make for tough pregnancy." MedPage Today, 27 Apr. 2013. Web. 2 July 2013.
- Baldauf, Sarah. "Eating fish during pregnancy: what's the right approach? - US News and World Report." U.S. News, 16 June 2009. Web. 2 July 2013.