Vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency is a very common problem. It is estimated in Australia that one in three adults and 80% of all pregnant women are vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D deficiency may also result from some chronic medical conditions and certain medications. Ninety percent of our vitamin D is made in the skin via sun exposure. Vitamin D deficiency is therefore thought to be contributed to the general community being more aware of the harmful effects of sun exposure and the fact that we live in the southern regions of Australia. Most foods contain very little vitamin D naturally although some margarines, cereals and milk are fortified with added vitamin D. It is important to maintain healthy vitamin D levels during pregnancy as it assists in maintaining muscle and bone strength, allows your body to absorb calcium and is an important nutrient for the growth and development of the baby’s muscle/skeletal system. Vitamin D levels are checked routinely during your pregnancy at your initial consultation. If you are identified as having a low vitamin D level, you will need to take a supplement. This is in addition to the pregnancy multivitamin that you Vitamin D supplement, which is available at the pharmacy. You will need to take two capsules/tablets twice a day. Your vitamin D levels usually are checked at the first visit and then around rechecked at 28 weeks gestation – check with your Doctor or midwife. Depending upon this result, your dosage may be increased until you give birth. There is very little vitamin D in breast milk so you will need to purchase a liquid vitamin for your baby from your pharmacy. You will be advised by one of the midwives in hospital regarding the dosage and how to administer the drops. Your Maternal and Child Health Nurse will advise you about administration and dosage after your discharge from hospital. For women who have had low vitamin D levels during pregnancy, in the long term it is important to continue taking a vitamin D supplement to protect against health problems such as osteoporosis. You can follow this up with your regular GP who can arrange further testing to ensure that your vitamin D levels have stayed within the normal range and adjust the dose of your supplement accordingly.   Midwife Cath® has taken time to ensure to provide accurate information to you and as the mother baby relationship is unique to each and everyone it is impossible to cover every situation.  If you have at any time concerns about the health and welfare of you or your baby you must consult personally with a health professional whenever you are in doubt about you or your baby’s health.