Though vitamin D is essential at all stages of life, it is the most important during pregnancy. Vitamin D plays a major role in pregnancy and expecting mothers are recommended to take the sufficient amounts of vitamin D for both their own well being and the healthy development of their baby. If you are, or were, vitamin D deficient, then you need to make sure to meet up the daily requirement of vitamin D during pregnancy.
Why Do You Need Vitamin D During Pregnancy?
During pregnancy, vitamin D maintains proper levels of calcium and phosphorus. For expecting mothers, vitamin D
- Helps to absorb calcium from consumed food
- Helps to maintain the muscle and bone strength
- May also protect from developing diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer.
Vitamin D helps to develop baby’s bones and teeth. If the mother has vitamin D deficiency, it can affect the amount of calcium in the bones of the baby. If the deficiency is severe, it can cause a condition of bone deformity known as rickets.
What happens if you don’t get enough vitamin D?
The adequate vitamin D nutrition of the developing baby depends on the vitamin D status of its mother, as it is important for the healthy growth of its skeleton. Hence, when a woman gets pregnant, her vitamin D requirements can increase up to four to five times of the actual requirement.
The baby stores its vitamin D while in the womb and relies upon these reserves until it can obtain its own vitamin D from sunlight and diet. Adequate vitamin D levels during pregnancy can have long term benefits for both mother and baby. And low vitamin D levels can have adverse outcomes in pregnancy and after birth.
How does vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy affect?
As we have come to know that low vitamin D levels during pregnancy can affect overall well being of both expecting women and developing baby, let us know how they can affect,
The Developing Baby:
- Poor skeletal development: Since adequate vitamin D status of an expectant mother helps the absorption and utilization of calcium that is responsible for the healthy growth of fetal bone, vitamin D deficiency of mother may impact the healthy development of her baby. It can also affect the bone density in children even after birth.
- Low birth weight: Vitamin D levels of an expectant mother in early pregnancy may have an impact on the growth of her baby later in the pregnancy. Hence, maintain adequate vitamin D levels are associated with a healthy birth weight of the baby. If the mother is deficient in vitamin D, her baby has a higher risk to be born with a lower birth weight.
- Weaker immune system: Vitamin D is essential for the proper functioning of the immune system. A low maternal vitamin D status during pregnancy can affect the developing immune system of the developing baby and lead to immune problems later in life.
The Expectant Mother:
- Adverse effects on bone health: Since vitamin D is essential for strong and healthy bones, if the mother is vitamin D deficient, it may affect her bone health.
- Poor immune function: As mentioned earlier, vitamin D helps maintain a healthy immune system; inadequate vitamin D levels during pregnancy can affect the mother’s immune function.
- Other complications: Low maternal vitamin D levels can increase the mother’s risk of pregnancy complications including diabetes, heart disease, and infections.
Since vitamin D deficiency can show symptoms very rarely, make sure to check your vitamin D levels during pregnancy and take additional care in order to meet up the nutritional requirements. If you are diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency, ask your health care professional to prescribe the supplements and suggest foods that are rich in Vitamin D. This ensures you get adequate vitamin D during pregnancy which is good for both you and your developing baby.