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Pregnancy in isolation means a variety of different things- most of them difficult. However, in addition to difficulty in regards to social distancing and a lack of fresh air, there are many medical issues that can come as a result of being cooped up inside while pregnant. One aspect to keep in mind is the possibility of developing a Vitamin D deficiency. It is important to note that if you are concerned about having a Vitamin D deficiency, consult your primary care physician and ask for a simple blood test.
The American Pregnancy Association refers to Vitamin D as a steroid vitamin from a group of fat-soluble prohormones. Vitamin D is important during pregnancy as expecting mothers need to make sure they get the recommended amounts of vitamin D during pregnancy for both their own well being and the healthy development of their baby. Most clinicians recommend Vitamin D supplements for pregnant mothers as there is an estimated 33% of pregnant women in the U.S. are deficient in Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is known as the “sun” vitamin for the body’s ability to synthesize it from exposure to sunshine. In addition to having numerous benefits for bone, brain, cardiovascular, immune, metabolic, and respiratory health, vitamin D is a critical nutrient for a healthy pregnancy. Emerging evidence helps us understand the precise benefits of vitamin D during pregnancy, and while this research is fairly new, the evidence of vitamin D’s benefit is strong.
Health Science says that “Research shows that vitamin D may benefit certain complications during pregnancy”. Vitamin D can help complications that can happen to pregnant mothers involving blood pressure, blood sugar balance, and C section complications. 14% of pregnancies in the US are impacted by blood sugar complications and research suggests that Vitamin D deficiency may play a role. Vitamin D insufficiency impacts blood sugar balance during pregnancy as one recent study shows that blood sugar balance is more easily achieved with sufficient blood levels of Vitamin D.
Vitamin D and preterm birth is one of the leading causes of infant mortality and represents an estimated 9.6% of infants born in the US. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to preterm birth with recent studies suggesting that sufficient levels of vitamin D may decrease the likelihood by 40%. Similarly, in another study, researchers reported 60% fewer of these births in women with higher vitamin D levels compared to women with lower levels.
Low birth weight, birth length, and head circumference at birth are linked to the pregnancy complications discussed in regards to preterm birth and have also been linked to Vitamin D status. Research shows that higher vitamin D levels are associated with higher infant birth weight and larger head circumference.
In conclusion, according to the Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guidelines, without proper sun exposure, vitamin D supplementation is needed in order to get adequate amounts. As a result of isolation and the inability to walk around outside in the sunshine, it is more important to take Vitamin D supplements than ever! In addition to supplements, try and sit in the sun for an hour or two a day- whether it be on your porch or in your backyard for maximum exposure.