Sunshine is our best source of vitamin D, but we often don’t get enough due to lifestyles that keep more and more of us inside. If you are pregnant, this can lead to problems for you and the baby – but also beyond pregnancy if healthy levels aren’t maintained. Whilst diet and definitely sunshine help, you may also need supplements.
1. Reduce the likelihood of pregnancy complications
Did you know that one in four women aged 19 to 24, and one in six women aged 25 to 34 in the UK are vitamin D deficient in the UK. This can lead to complications in pregnancy including an increased risk of pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes and caesarean section.
There are also possible complications for your baby, such as weakened bone development and growth, respiratory infections and asthma. NICE Guidelines recommend you take 10 micrograms of vitamin D daily throughout your pregnancy.
2. Supplements and breastfeeding
The amount of vitamin D in breast milk depends on how much your body produces. As many women are deficient in the UK it is important you to take a supplement if you are breastfeeding, to make sure your baby doesn’t become deficient – as mentioned above, this can lead to problems with healthy bone and teeth development, as well as respiratory infections and asthma. If you are concerned your baby is not getting enough vitamin D, speak with your health visitor, she may suggest drops once your baby is one month or older.
3. Maintain healthy vitamin D levels in your children
Modern life often means our children spend less time playing outside, which means they may not be getting enough vitamin D from the sun. To avoid your children being deficient whilst their bones and teeth are still developing, The Department of Health advises that all children from six months to five years of age should be given vitamin D supplements. If you are formula feeding your baby at least 500 ml a day this is not necessary as vitamin D is added to formula milk, but once you stop formula feeding supplements should be given instead.