Research confirms vitamin D is key during pregnancy

During your pregnancy, there are so many nutrients you have to work into your diet that it can be tough to keep track of all of them. For example, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that it's important for pregnant women to get 400 micrograms of folic acid a day to help prevent a number of birth defects in babies. However, folic acid is not the only important nutrient during pregnancy - you need to eat a balanced diet to get a wide range of vitamins and minerals in your system. 

For example, researchers from London's Kingston University recently conducted a study that further highlighted the importance of vitamin D during pregnancy. According to the scientists, while current studies suggest that about 19 percent of a baby's vitamin D deficiency or supply comes from its mother, this current study shows that it may be as much as three times higher than that. 

Pregnant women need vitamin D
The researchers examined 60 mothers and their babies to come to their conclusions. They discovered that many of the mothers had low levels of vitamin D despite being from Greece, where there is a great deal of sunlight. Researchers found that a newborn gets up to 56 percent of its vitamin D from its mother, which is a much higher estimate than previously thought. 

"The impact that mothers deficient in vitamin D have on their babies' levels is a much bigger problem than we thought," said researcher Declan Naughton, who headed the Kingston University research team. "Maintaining good supplies during pregnancy is clearly of vital importance for both mothers' and babies' long term health."

The scientists added that insufficient vitamin D levels during pregnancy have been linked to an increased risk of women having to have a cesarean section or delivering smaller babies. Furthermore, children who have poor vitamin D levels have a higher chance of developing a soft bone condition known as rickets. 

"This shows the need for more accurate measurement to assess levels of vitamin D as well as the need to look more closely at its different forms," added Naughton. 

How to get more vitamin D
These findings highlight how important it is for you to get a healthy amount of vitamin D during your pregnancy. You may have heard that people get most of their vitamin D from exposure to the sun. While it's true that the body does produce vitamin D in response to being exposed to sunlight, you need to be careful. Spending too much time in the sun can increase your risk of developing skin cancer, which is why you need to look for other ways to get the vitamin D you need. Furthermore, if you live in an area with a lot of cloud cover, you may not be getting enough. 

Thankfully, there are many ways that you can get vitamin D that have nothing to do with the sun. For example, there are supplements you can take, but you should always talk to your doctor before taking any supplements during pregnancy. There are also foods that contain this vitamin. Reader's Digest magazine recommended that people eat mushrooms, eggs, cheese and products that have been fortified with vitamin D, such as milk and orange juice. Furthermore, many fish, such as salmon, cod and halibut, have ample amounts of vitamin D. Some women are concerned about consuming fish during their pregnancy, which is why you should talk to your doctor about what's right for you. 

Did you get enough vitamin D during pregnancy? If so, how did you do it? Comment with suggestions here!