Vitamin D in Pregnancy and Nursing

Care of Flicker by Mahalie Stackpole

Vitamin D levels are very important to your personal health as well as that of your baby.  I have previously written about how Vitamin D reduces pre-eclampsia, or toxemia of pregnancy.  Vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy and infancy prevents childhood Type 1 diabetes.  And low levels of Vitamin D during pregnancy and lactation have caused preclinical rickets which have caused African American women whose skin absorption is lower, to lose custody of children on charges of suspected child abuse.

A South Carolina study of pregnancy complications and Vitamin D  found:

  • The 400 iu level of Vitamin D in a prenatal vitamin was inconsequential
  • 4000 iu of Vitamin D reduced bad pregnancy outcomes by half compared to 400 iu.
  • 4000 iu of Vitamin D is safe in pregnancy
  • Virtually all African American women in sunny SC had serious deficiencies of Vitamin D
  • 30% of all pregnant women in the study were severely deficient

In the video below, Vitamin D researcher Carole Baggerly interviews Dr. Carol Lynn Wagner of the Medical University of South Carolina who has been studying the effects of Vitamin D on pregnant and lactating women.  In a double blind study, 350 apparently healthy women were divided into groups that were given 400 iu of Vitamin D  (the current recommendation,)  2000 iu and  4000 iu.  Initially the study was concerned with safety of the women and their babies, but it also looked at adverse events including preterm labor, pre-eclampsia,  gestational diabetes, hypertension, infections, and preterm birth.  The study found that 4000 iu of vitamin D  was found to be safe and 400 iu, which is currently found in prenatal vitamins, was inconsequential.   Overall the study found half as many adverse events in the 4000 iu group as in the 400 iu group.  Significant reductions were found  in infections, preterm labor and preterm birth.

Care of KalLKL's Flicker Stream

The serum levels of 25(OH)D  (“25 Hydroxy D”  the correct test for measuring Vitamin D insufficiency) were tested at the end of the study.  In the 4000 iu group, the blood  level ended up around 49 ng/ml which is under the 60-100 ng/ml that some researchers recommend (and which I suggest,) but was within the 40-60 ng/ml that the researchers wanted.  In the 2000 iu group, levels were 42 ng/ml and in the 400 iu group, they were quite low, below 30 ng/ml.

It is very important for pregnant women to test their serum (blood) levels. Sun bathers or users of tanning beds may have higher levels of Vitamin D without as much supplementation.  But as I have written before, it is not easy to get enough Vitamin D from the sun.  In sunny South Carolina which is in the south and has 300 days of sun, about 30% of  pregnant women are severely deficient in Vitamin D. 75% of African American women severely deficient in Vitamin D.  Virtually 100% of African American pregnant women  tested as either deficient or severely deficient since melanin in the skin reduces D absorption. In New York where I am located we can expect much higher levels of deficiency.

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One thought on “Vitamin D in Pregnancy and Nursing”

  1. Thanks for posting all this information on Vitamin D. As a new mother and a fellow acupuncturist, I find the information helpful and very informative. Trying to find succinct clear information on the importance of Vitamin D and the best sources for supplementation is a time-consuming quagmire. Thank you for distilling it in easy-to-read and use pieces.

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