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Vitamin D Supplements Before and During Pregnancy

A blog by Mary Claire Kenworthy, Prenate, August 13, 2014

The benefits of Vitamin D are well-known. It helps the body absorb calcium, promotes healthy bones and strengthens the immune system. And recent studies have highlighted the benefits of adequate Vitamin D levels in women who are trying to conceive or are pregnant.

A prenatal vitamin with Vitamin D, or Vitamin D supplements, is necessary in order to help unborn babies develop strong bones, teeth and muscles. Vitamin D also helps an unborn baby establish a normal heart rhythm. And according to a study published in 2010, maintaining healthy levels of Vitamin D may reduce pregnancy complications:

  • preeclampsia
  • gestational diabetes
  • preterm birth

A more recent study determined that women who have Vitamin D deficiency in the first 26 weeks of pregnancy are more likely to develop severe preeclampsia. Additionally, researchers in the UK found that mothers with low Vitamin D levels had children with reduced muscle strength compared to children of mothers who had adequate Vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D is unlike most vitamins in that we generally don’t get the sufficient amount from the foods we eat. Exposure to sunlight and a Vitamin D supplement are often required to get the proper intake. Vitamin D2 is found is foods fortified with the vitamin, and Vitamin D3 is the form that is synthesized by the skin from sunlight and is found in supplements.

The recommended amount of daily Vitamin D intake has increased for pregnant women and breastfeeding moms. The Institute of Medicine recommends 600 IU of vitamin D daily, and the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests an even greater daily dose. Meta-analyses recommend at least 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily for optimal calcium absorption and bone mineral density and studies have shown that adults can take up to 4,000 IU/day.

According to the 2010 study, women who took 4,000 IU of Vitamin D during their second and third trimester experienced half the rate of pregnancy-related complications.

Sources: and

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