Attention expectant moms: are you getting enough of this one essential vitamin? If the answer is no, you could be putting you life at risk.
Vitamin D is a major player in maintaining overall good health. It contributes to boosting the immune system, insulin regulation, heart health, brain function, and muscle strength. Research suggests this robust vitamin could also reduce the risk of developing cancer.
When you consider the benefits, it becomes rather obvious that everyone should make sure they get their daily allowance. The problem is, the RDA is sorely lacking.
And if you’re pregnant, you need much more than you think.
A new study shows that women who develop preeclampsia (a condition related to increased blood pressure and kidney problems) during pregnancy have low levels of vitamin D. Normally, sunlight exposure stimulates vitamin D synthesis in the skin. Women with darker skin are prone to vitamin D deficiency because this process isn’t as efficient for them. In addition, the fear of skin cancer prompts many women to apply sunscreen every time they step outside. This too inhibits adequate vitamin D production.
How vitamin D prevents pregnancy complications.
Vitamin D is not just a simple vitamin. It produces multiple internal effects that repair and maintain many body organs. This includes regulating proteins in the placenta that are involved with preeclampsia.
What’s more, research shows that women who take 4,000 IUs of vitamin D each day reduced their risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, and preeclampsia – serious complications in pregnancy - by a significant 30 percent. Research has uncovered a few more benefits of taking higher doses of vitamin D:
- The risk of delivering a premature baby is cut in half.
- Small for date birth weight is reduced.
- Fewer respiratory infections as well as gum and vaginal infections.
- Babies receiving higher amounts of vitamin D contract fewer colds.
Optimizing vitamin D levels is crucial. As it stands right now, the recommended daily allowance for vitamin D is 400 IU. Many experts believe this level is way too low and for pregnant women, and recommend around 4,000 IUs – that’s 10 times the current recommended dosage.
If you’re like most pregnant women, you’re deficient in vitamin D.
Over 67% of the women involved in the research had vitamin D levels less than 20 ng/ml, a serious state of vitamin D deficiency. Over 87% of newborns were deficient as well. That’s why the researchers recommend optimizing vitamin D to all expectant mothers so that they safeguard their own health, and their babies’ health as well.
However, don’t assume your doctor will automatically test your vitamin D level during your prenatal visits. You will have to ask, as it’s not standard practice. Findings from the latest research may soon make it mandatory, but for now, you must be proactive and let your doctor know you’re concerned. You should strive for a minimum blood level of 50 ng/ml. It’s likely your results will state you are in the normal range even your below 50 ng/ml because, just like the RDA, the lab reference ranges are far too low.
In the meantime, talk to your doctor about increasing your vitamin D allowance to 4,000 IUs a day. If you spend less than one hour in the sun each day, you could need as much as 10,000 units a day. Your health and your baby’s well-being could depend on it.