Why Do Pregnant Women Need More Vitamin D? What Are The Right Sources, Expert Reveals

Humans usually obtain vitamin D through dietary intake and exposure to sunlight. Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D.

Shalini Chakraborty  |  Updated: December 18, 2020 01:14 IST

Reddit
Why Do Pregnant Women Need More Vitamin D? What Are The Right Sources, Expert Reveals

Vitamin D is one of many vitamins our bodies need to stay healthy.

Highlights
  • Vitamin D is a group of fat-soluble prohormones
  • Vitamin D helps in promoting insulin action and lung development
  • Here is an expert take on the right sources of vitamin D

With so much chatter around vitamin D and its importance, it is a good idea to know a bit more about the 'sunshine vitamin'. Vitamin D is a group of fat-soluble prohormones which were identified after the discovery of the anti-rachitic effect of cod liver oil in the early part of the 20th century. The two major biologically precursors of vitamin D are vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) and vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol). Vitamin D3 is formed when the skin is exposed to solar ultraviolet rays. In a heat-dependent process, previtamin D3 is immediately converted to vitamin D. Vitamin D2 is plant derived, produced exogenously by irradiation of ergosterol, and enters the circulation through diet.

Vitamin D Sources

Humans usually obtain vitamin D through dietary intake and exposure to sunlight. Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D. Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines are rich in vitamin D3. Egg yolks are reported to contain vitamin D though the amounts are highly variable. Moreover, the cholesterol content of egg yolks makes it a poor source of vitamin D. Also, a small number of foods are fortified with vitamin D such as milk, orange juice and some bread and cereals.

Newsbeep

(Also Read: Avoid Vitamin D Deficiency In Winter, Add These Foods To Your Diet)

fhhv2vt

Salmon is said to be rich in vitamin D3

Why is vitamin D so important?

Vitamin D is one of many vitamins our bodies need to stay healthy. This vitamin has many functions, including:

- Keeping bones strong: Having healthy bones protects from various conditions -osteomalacia, osteoporosis including rickets. Rickets is a disorder that causes children to have weak and fragile bones. It is caused by low vitamin D, which is needed for absorption of calcium and phosphorus in body. In adults, having soft bones due to lack of absorption of calcium, is a condition called Osteomalacia. Weak or soft bones can lead to Osteoporosis, the loss of bone density which can lead to fractures. Vitamin D either taken orally through diet or supplement or from sunshine exposure, then converted to an active form of the vitamin. The active form promotes optimal absorption of calcium from diet.

(Also Read: Vitamin D Benefits: 5 Easy Egg Recipes To Load Up On The 'Sunshine' Vitamin)

5b51vh38

In adults, having soft bones due to lack of absorption of calcium, is a condition called Osteomalacia​.

- Working with parathyroid glands: The parathyroid glands help balance the calcium in the blood by communicating with the kidneys, gut and skeleton. When there is sufficient calcium in the diet and sufficient active Vitamin D, dietary calcium is absorbed and put to good use throughout the body. If calcium intake is insufficient or vitamin D is low, the parathyroid glands will 'borrow' calcium from the skeleton in order to keep the blood calcium in the normal range.

The health effects of vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D plays a vital role in managing overall health and protecting against the following conditions and possibly helping to treat them. These conditions may include:

- Bone diseases such as osteoporosis or rickets

- Heart disease and high blood pressure

- Diabetes

- Infections and immune system disorders

- Falls in older people

- Some types of cancer, such as colon, prostate and breast cancers

- Multiple sclerosis

(Also Read: 7 Vitamin D-Rich Indian Breakfast Recipes: Boost Your Immunity During Coronavirus Pandemic)

mrj73kho

Vitamin D can also protect against diabetes.

Signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency

Studies have shown that severe lack of vitamin D causes in children as incorrect growth patterns, delayed mental development, weakness in muscles, pain in bones and deformities in joints.

Signs and symptoms among adults might include-

- Fatigue.

- Bone pain.

- Muscle weakness, muscle aches, or muscle cramps.

- Mood changes, like depression.

Vitamin D in Pregnancy & Neonates

Vitamin D helps in promoting insulin action and secretion, immune modulation and lung development. It therefore has the potential to influence many factors in the developing fetus.

It is recommended that the requirement for vitamin D in expecting and lactating women is up to 6000 iu/day.

Pre-eclampsia and neonatal hypocalcaemia are the most prevalent complications of maternal hypocalcaemia and are clearly associated with substantial morbidity. Maternal vitamin D level is also associated with fetal bone and lung development, neonatal immune conditions such as asthma.

(Also Read: Vitamin D Intake During Pregnancy Linked To Greater IQ Among Children: 5 Vitamin D Foods )

Maternal & fetal complications due to low vitamin D levels in body include:

- Pre-eclampsia

- Low Birth weight

- Impaired glucose intolerance in pregnancy

- Neonatal hypocalcaemic seizure

- Impaired skeletal growth & development for neonates

- Fetus lung development & childhood immune disorder

Treatment of vitamin D deficient women and vitamin D supplementation is safe and is recommended for all women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Low vitamin D concentrations have been associated with a wide range of adverse maternal and offspring health outcomes.



About Author: Shalini Chakraborty is Sr. Executive Nutritionist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals , Bengaluru (Old Air Port Road) 



Listen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.com

Disclaimer:

The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

Comments

For the latest food news, health tips and recipes, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and YouTube.

Advertisement
Advertisement