Vitamin D is responsible for fetal development and bone growth and formation, meaning it is essential for vitamin D levels to be sufficient during pregnancy, especially during the ossification stages in the third trimester.
Our vitamin D stores need to remain between 30 – 50ng/ml. Very few foods contain vitamin D and the ones that do (such as cod liver) aren’t the most popular food of choice. Even the fortified foods (milk, bread and cereal) lack a substantial level. Fortunately, we receive vitamin D primarily from exposure of sunlight. The body is contains vitamin D receptors – and this also includes the placenta. These receptors draw vitamin D into the bloodstream as sunlight hits our skin. During the summer months, spending 10 – 15 minutes in the afternoon sun is all we need to replenish our vitamin D levels. As vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin (meaning it absorbs into the fatty tissue of our bodies), our levels will remain sufficient enough thanks to our healthy exposure to sunlight. During pregnancy, the baby receives vitamin D exclusively from your maternal stores, and so it is important to have you levels checked throughout your pregnancy.
Although vitamin D deficiency isn’t common in Australia, it can occur due to lifestyle changes, or a BMI of 30. Pregnant women will have their vitamin D levels check at their first round of antenatal serology. If you are pregnant and think you may be at risk of having low vitamin D, chat with your obstetrician or GP about being screened.