Full Circle Blog:
Women's Health

Are You Vitamin D Deficient?

October 1, 2014

Did you know that 40-60% of the U.S. population is vitamin D deficient?
This is primarily due to the fact that there is only a short list of foods that contain vitamin D – including egg yolk, salmon and cod liver oil. While many people consume their Vitamin D through fortified foods like milk, this is not possible for 75% of the population that is lactose intolerant.Recent studies have discovered a connection between low vitamin D levels and an increased risk of certain types of cancers, autoimmune disease, neurologic disease, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular disease.

On the positive side, proper levels of Vitamin D support immune function, healthy cell division and bone health. During pregnancy, it contributes to the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorus that build your baby’s bones and teeth. It also reduces the risk of skeletal complications, while balancing birth weight and maintaining proper levels of calcium and phosphorus.

The Midwives at Full Circle Women’s Health check our patients’ Vitamin D levels annually, and during pregnancy we highly encourage Vitamin D3 supplementation. 

What is it?

Vitamin D is a steroid vitamin from a group of fat-soluble hormones. According to the Mayo Clinic, the phrase “vitamin D” refers both to D2, which comes from your diet, and D3, which is created in your skin when its exposed to sunlight.

What Does it Do?

Vitamin D’s main purpose in the body is to regulate blood levels of calcium and phosphorous. However, it has also been shown to decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s and cancer and, most recently, improve the success of IVF treatments.

How Do you Know if You’re Getting Enough? 

Serious symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include asthma, depression and heart disease. Less obvious symptoms include restless sleep, muscle cramps, general fatigue, joint pain, muscle pain or weakness, inability to concentrate, headaches, constipation or diarrhea and bladder problems. 

Can you Get Enough in Your Prenatal Vitamin?According to recent studies, pregnant women taking 4,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily experience the greatest benefits in preventing preterm labor or birth and infections. As the average prenatal vitamin only contains 400 IU of vitamin D3, you may want to speak with your caregiver about additional supplementation.

How Much Do You Need?While The National Academy of Sciences has traditionally recommended that pregnant women should get 200 IUs (5 micrograms) of vitamin D each day, they are reviewing their recommendations due to the advice of many experts who believe this amount isn’t nearly enough. According to Bruce Hollis, professor of pediatrics at the Medical University of South Carolina, who has researched vitamin D needs, pregnant women should take a supplement of 4,000 IU of vitamin D a day, and lactating women should take a supplement of 6,000 IU daily.

Where Can You Get it Naturally? 

Vitamin D can be found in catfish, salmon, mackerel, tuna fish, sardines, fortified milk, orange juice and fortified ready-to-eat cereal.

Are you unsure if your Vitamin D levels are sufficient? We’d love to schedule an annual check in with you.