Roughly one in twenty white women and half of black women in the US are deficient in Vitamin D. In addition to the general health concern this should cause all of us, it presents special problems for women who become pregnant.
A recent study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh has linked low Vitamin D levels during a woman’s first trimester of pregnancy to low birth weights. The study showed that having insufficient Vitamin D levels during the first fourteen weeks of pregnancy doubled the chances of the babies being born small for their gestational ages.
The study considered full term babies only and did not examine the levels of Vitamin D to premature births. On average, babies born to women with low Vitamin D levels were 46 grams (about 1/10 of a pound) lower in weight than those born to women with adequate levels of Vitamin D during their first trimester. While this may not sound like a huge difference, it is significant enough for doctors to note the importance of ensuring that women who are trying to become pregnant or who are in their first trimester of pregnancy get adequate Vitamin D.
You can add Vitamin D to your system in several ways, including:
- Sunlight. You can absorb Vitamin D through your skin by staying outside on a sunny day. Of course, it’s important to use sunscreen and limit your exposure to healthy levels of sunlight, too.
- Dairy products. Milk and cheese are excellent sources of Vitamin D. Avoid soft cheeses like Brie, as they can cause other complications during pregnancy.
- Certain breakfast cereals. Check the labels. Lots of cereals are fortified with Vitamin D. Cheerios, bran cereals, and Corn Flakes all have high levels of Vitamin D. If you need a little sugar in the mornings, Froot Loops, Lucky Charms, and Honey Smacks are also high in D.
- Supplements. Most prenatal vitamins are high in Vitamin D. Vitamin D is also sold on its own or in multivitamins.
If you are pregnant, make sure you’re getting enough Vitamin D. If you’re trying to become pregnant, don’t wait until you get the good news to add this important nutrient to your diet. Start taking neonatal vitamins or a multivitamin with Vitamin D now. What changes can you make to ensure that your Vitamin D levels are high enough?