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Vitamin D and pregnancy

Pregnant and breastfeeding women who do not eat dairy products or who have little exposure to the sun can suffer from a vitamin D deficiency, which can lead to seizures and a slowing down of your baby's heart rate.

Vitamin D, also known as calciferol, is a fat-soluble vitamin, like vitamin A and vitamin E, and is absorbed by the body from certain foods and the sun. Vitamin D, as opposed to other vitamins, can be produced by your body. It is important for muscular functioning, the carrying of messages from the brain to other parts of your body and the strengthening of your body’s immune system, which protects you from bacteria and viruses, as well as the absorption of calcium, which is necessary for healthy bones.

Sources of vitamin D:

  • fatty fish
  • cheese
  • milk
  • egg yolk
  • the sun

How much vitamin D do my baby and I need?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamin D for adults is 15 ug (micrograms)/day and for pregnant women the RDA remains the same. Human milk is an insufficient source of vitamin D, therefore babies that are breastfed should be given a supplement of 10 ug (micrograms) each day to reach the RDA of 10 ug (micrograms).

Vitamin D deficiencies

It is important that babies get enough vitamin D, because a deficiency may lead to seizures and a slow heart rate.  A vitamin D deficiency can cause bones to become very fragile. When presented in children, the condition is known as rickets, but in adults it is called osteomalacia. Vitamin D deficiencies can result in bow-shaped legs, as the bones are unable to support the weight of the body and start to bend.

More about vitamins during pregnancy.