Vitamin D and Pregnancy during Winter

Your Vitamin D levels during pregnancy are important for your baby’s health and help prevent certain diseases. Differences between babies born during summer and babies born after October are believed to be partly due to differences in sun exposure. Because the amount of sun exposure is higher during late spring, summer and beginning of autumn than the rest of the year, women who are pregnant in this period benefit from more Vitamin D intake on average.

Effects of Vitamin D intake during pregnancy

What does this mean? Your baby needs Vitamin D for growth, especially in the second half of pregnancy, when ossification processes and bone growth are developing. Babies born during the summer are more likely to have bigger bones than babies born during the winter season. On average, “summer babies” are 5 mm taller than “winter babies”. This difference is correlated with the difference of Vitamin D levels measured in the blood of the mothers while pregnant.

Vitamin D has many other benefits for maternal and fetal health. It has important effects for the immune system and it may play a role in preventing food allergies, asthma and preeclampsia. Try to spend as much time as possible in daylight, especially during the winter season, when days are shorter.

Food sources of Vitamin D and dietary supplements

Products fortified with Vitamin D are a good choice, since very few foods have sufficient Vitamin D. Cereal, milk and orange juice that are fortified with Vitamin D and Calcium are usually easy to find. Other foods rich in Vitamin D are: egg yolk, tuna, sardines and pink salmon. However, when you are pregnant, your body needs much more Vitamin D than any of these foods can supply. So if the rainy days keep you inside, vitamin supplements are a must. Always consult with your doctor beforehand.

Most pregnant women need to take dietary supplements that include Vitamin D, as intake from food is often not sufficient. The level of Vitamin D in your body can actually be measured if deficiency is suspected, so check with your doctor at the next appointment for advice on taking supplements. Talk to your midwife for nutrition and lifestyle advice that will help you increase your daily intake of Vitamin D. A tip: hold back on using sunscreen with SPF higher than 30, it reduces your Vitamin D intake.