Vitamin D During Pregnancy: Are You Getting Enough?
When was the last time you thought about Vitamin D?
From the moment you conceive, your baby relies on you to provide the nutrients she needs to grow strong and healthy. Folic acid is always a hot buzzword, with obstetricians encouraging women to take a prenatal vitamin packed with this nutrient starting even before she conceives. Vitamin C is a well known nutrient, too; the US Department of Health and Human Services recommends a 7 or more servings of fruits and veggies every day. Need iron? Eat some steak. Looking for additional calcium? Cheese, please!
Vitamin D is included in those prenatal vitamins, and is also a part of many common foods, but experts at Northwestern University say up to 40% of American women are Vitamin D deficient. For pregnant women or women who are nursing, your baby might also be lacking in this important nutrient, too.
A vitamin D deficiency can cause a variety of conditions, from high blood pressure to pulmonary disease; most recently, researchers at Louisiana State University investigated the link between lack of vitamin D and daytime sleepiness (as if pregnant ladies need anything more to make us feel sleepy during the day!) Specific to pregnancy, vitamin D helps your body transfer calcium to your (and your baby’s) bones and teeth. So, you can thank vitamin D for all those late nights during teething! A deficiency in the vitamin can lead to slow growth, problems with the immune system, and low birth weight for baby; for mama, it can lead to preeclampsia and a higher chance of a c-section.
Need some unique ideas for getting more Vitamin D in your life? Here are 5 of my favorites.
1. Take a walk
You might not want to venture outdoors due to the recent weather, but getting outdoors in the sun can do wonders for your vitamin D intake. Your body creates this vitamin when it is exposed to sun, and natural sunlight in small doses is the main natural source of vitamin D.
2. Eat salmon
I love salmon. Unfortunately, I’m the only one in my household who does, so I reserve this tasty dish for the rare evening out. I probably should eat more, though – salmon is one of the best food sources for vitamin D. Three ounces of salmon can give you almost 400 IU of vitamin D, as well as a good dose of omega-3 fatty acid, which is good for baby’s brain development. Salmon is also low calorie, which can help with weight gain during your pregnancy.
3. Make a cheese plate
Cheese, you guys – it’s one of my favorite things. The gooier and melt-ier the cheese, the more I enjoy it. It’s clear cheese is a good source of calcium, but it can also be a good source of vitamin D, especially hard cheeses like cheddar, Parmesan, and Swiss. Splurge on some “good cheese” and create a few grab-bags for an on-the-go snack that can help keep your energy and give your body all those great nutrients.
4. Snack on cereal
My go-to snack in the evenings isn’t cookies or ice cream – it’s cereal. I’m especially partial to Honey Nut Cheerios or something with a sweet crunch. In addition to helping you stay away from high-sugar and high-calorie sweet treats, cereal (especially fortified cereal) is a good source of vitamin D. Check the box for exact values. Cereal can also be a combined with raisins, chocolate chips, dried fruit, or seasonings for a great snack mix.
5. Indulge in a milkshake
I’m not condoning a milkshake a day, although I really wish I could sometimes. When you feel a craving for a milkshake coming on, indulge! Whip up a homemade milkshake with 2% or skim milk for a big dose of calcium and vitamin D.
What ways are you incorporating more vitamin D in your diet? Are you worried about getting enough vitamin D for your growing baby?