Vitamin D is an essential vitamin used by the human body to aid in the absorption of Calcium from dietary sources through the gut into the bloodstream. Calcium is vital for bone health.
Vitamin D is sourced in two ways: through direct exposure to sunlight onto our skin and from dietary sources.
Dietary sources include fatty fish and seafood, egg yolks, mushrooms, cheese, and some fortified products (certain brands of orange juice, dairy products, soy milk and cereals have additional Vitamin D added during production).
Vitamin D deficiency is unfortunately extremely common due to the fact the average Australian has very little direct exposure to sunlight on a weekly basis. With many people spending most of their time indoors or in their cars. Approximately 40% of adults have low levels of Vitamin D.
Chronic deficiency leads to poor calcium absorption and this reduces bone health. In pregnancy, if you’re Vitamin D deficient your placenta will draw calcium stores out your skeleton in order to form your babies bones adequately.
This results in reduced bone mass for mums and in the longer-term places you at risk of bone thinning; known as osteoporosis. This increases your chance of serious fractures later in life: e.g hip, wrist, vertebrae.
Diagnosis is simple with an easy blood test which can be done pre-pregnancy or at the first antenatal visit. If your levels are low, a simple supplement of vitamin D taken daily will correct the deficiency. After birth, many paediatricians now recommend Vitamin D drops daily for your newborn until 12 months of age. This is especially so if the mother is Vitamin D deficient. The paediatric team at Melbourne Neonatal Network, provide more information about dosage levels for your baby.
Phone the rooms if you’d like to discuss your pregnancy management.
This article has been written by Dr Peter England – Expert Obstetrician and Gynaecologist. Read more about Dr Peter England
For more information on Pregnancy, you can read the free A-Z of Pregnancy eBook.
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