I have Vitamin D deficiency. Is this a problem in pregnancy?
More Vitamin D deficiency is being diagnosed in the community. This is due to a combination of more doctors checking Vitamin D levels in “well” people and also an increased incidence with people being encouraged to say out of the sun, to cover up and to use strong sunscreens to help prevent the sun causing skin cancers especially malignant melanoma.
Vitamin D helps to develop your baby’s bones. If you have a very significant Vitamin D deficiency it can result in a reduced the amount of calcium your baby’s bones and in very severe cases can cause a bone deformity called “rickets”. Personally I have never delivered a baby with rickets, even though I have delivered thousands of babies.
For the large majority of pregnant women, Vitamin D deficiency is a long term rather than a pregnancy-only consideration. Vitamin D helps to maintain your muscle and bone strength, helps your body absorb calcium from food and may also protect you against developing diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer. But a recent study by Prof Ian R Reid reported in the Lancer Medical Journal found the widespread use of vitamin D for osteoporosis prevention in community-dwelling adults without specific risk factors for vitamin D deficiency seems to be inappropriate.
People with vitamin D deficiency do not usually feel any different, but in some cases, they may have sore or weak muscles or have weakened bones.
Whey can be done about it?
Sunlight Increase time in sunlight. It is important to get enough sunlight to produce vitamin D without increasing your risk of skin cancer. In summer, many fair-skinned people make enough vitamin D from having their hands, arms and face (or equivalent area of skin) in the sun for a few minutes each day during normal, day to day outdoor activities. People with darker skin need more sunlight and those with very dark skin may need three to six times as much sunlight as fair-skinned people.
Food While there is vitamin D in a small number of foods the average person’s diet will only supply about 10% of the amount they need. Vitamin D is present in oily fish such as mackerel and sardines, in eggs, in margarine and in some brands of milk. Although liver and cod liver oil contains vitamin D, they are not recommended in pregnancy as they also contain too much vitamin A.
Vitamin D supplements are recommended in pregnancy if your Vitamin D level is low. OsteVit D and Ostelin are the most common vitamin D supplements. Both contain the same amount of vitamin D.
If a mother is vitamin D deficient in pregnancy babies should be given extra vitamin D until they are weaned. Breast milk is not a good source of vitamin D. Pentavite, which is a liquid multivitamin mixture available from pharmacies, is suitable for this. The dosage is 0.45ml per day.