Vitamin D and pregnancy
vitamin; muscle; bone; rickets; deficiency; calcium; D; sun; sunshine;
- helps to maintain muscle and bone strength
- helps your body absorb calcium from food
- may also give you protection against developing diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer
Vitamin D in pregnancy
In pregnancy, vitamin D helps the development of a baby’s bones. If you have a vitamin D deficiency (low levels of vitamin D) it can affect the amount of calcium your baby has in his or her bones. In severe deficiency this can cause a bone deformity called rickets.
How do we get vitamin D?
From the sun
Most of our vitamin D is made in our skin by the sun’s ultraviolet rays. You are at risk of a vitamin D deficiency if you have too little sunlight exposure.
While there is vitamin D in some foods, there is not enough to give you what you need.
Women at risk of having low vitamin D levels
Women who are at a high risk of having low levels of vitamin D include
- Recent refugees
- Dark skinned women
- Women who cover all of their skin for religious or cultural reasons
- Women who always stay indoors.
Checking vitamin D levels
If you might be at risk of having low vitamin D levels it is important to have your level checked before pregnancy or in early pregnancy.
Vitamin D levels can be checked with a blood test. If the level is too low, you will be advised to take vitamin D supplements.
If a mother has a low level of vitamin D during pregnancy, the baby should also have a vitamin D supplement for at least 1 year and have some sun exposure. The supplement is a vitamin mixture such as Pentavite.
If a mother has low levels of vitamin D, breast milk is not a good source of vitamin D.
For more information
The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see your doctor or midwife.