Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for everyone. You won’t find it in a lot of food sources, and one can only take so much sun. But, because it is available everywhere in supplement form, it is one of the easiest ways to boost your health and immune system. Studies show it reduces your chances of severe symptoms from Covid-19. And other studies show that for pregnant women it can significantly reduce some pregnancy complications: preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, premature birth and infection. (1)
First step? Get a blood test. Ask your doctor to prescribe a blood test that will measure your vitamin D3 levels. Then your care provider can see exactly how many IU’s (international units) you need daily.
Research has shown a huge difference in people who had asymptomatic Covid-19 and those who ended up in the ICU. 96.82% of patients admitted to the ICU for Covid-19 were deficient in vitamin D and had a greater mortality rate.
There is overwhelming evidence for supplementing with vitamin D. “Vitamin D enhances the production of antimicrobial peptides by immune cells, reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines (3. Dictionary.com – cytokines – “any of a number of substances, such as interferon, interleukin, and growth factors, which are secreted by certain cells of the immune system and have an effect on other cells”) and promoting the expression of anti-inflammatory cytokines.” Joseph Mercola, Epoch Times, 7/19/21 (2)
- When you have an infection in your body, your body’s response is to release cytokines to battle inflammation. Sometimes the body releases too many cytokines, known as a “cytokine storm” which can kill tissue and damage organs. These cytokine storms have been a contributing factor in deaths from Covid-19. A study published in Nature.com in May 2020 found that high dose oral vitamin D therapy reduced deaths of Covid-19 patients.
There are only 400 IU of vitamin D in your prenatal vitamins. That is not enough vitamin D for most adults. That’s only an adequate amount for a breastfed infant. Some studies suggest pregnant women need 4000 IU of vitamin D daily which has been proven a safe level for both you and your baby (always ask your care provider how much to take). That’s why it’s important to ask your care provider to do a blood test to find out exactly what your levels are. Then you’ll know how much supplementation you will need.
According to the University of Rochester professor of pediatrics Ruth Lawrence, MD, “Compared to women who took 400 IU of vitamin D daily, those who took 4,000 IU were half as likely to develop gestational diabetes, pregnancy-related high blood pressure, or preeclampsia, Wagner says. They were also less likely to give birth prematurely.” (3)
Since 40-60% of the U.S. population is deficient in vitamin D, you can probably guess you are too. If you are Vitamin D deficient during pregnancy, then so is your baby:
- Your baby needs vitamin D for healthy bone and teeth growth, in addition to a healthy immune system.
- You need vitamin D for a healthy immune system, to help balance hormones, and to balance blood calcium levels.
- Preventing Preeclampsia – “The results of the present study suggest that prescription of vitamin D supplement in the first trimester of pregnancy contributes to preventing recurrence of preeclampsia. In regards to effects of vitamin D on preeclampsia, evidence suggests that vitamin D metabolism is associated with preeclampsia.”
There’s a very small amount of Vitamin D in breastmilk. Hard to believe since we know it’s the best choice of nutrition for your baby! Ask your pediatrician about supplementation if you are exclusively breastfeeding. If your baby gets artificial baby milk/formula, he/she is getting enough Vitamin D and won’t need a supplement. The AAP. recommends 400 IU for infants, children, and teens. But talk to your care provider about your child’s individual needs.
You would need 10-30 minutes, 2-3 times a week, of sun exposure in the middle of the day to get enough vitamin D from the sun. This makes me think about the 3 basal cell skin cancers I had removed with MOHS surgery. I’d rather take a capsule and use sunscreen than have skin cancer – how about you? Who has time to be outside mid-day for 30 minutes too? The darker your skin, the more time you need in the sun.
Your choices are somewhat limited!
- Fish – salmon, canned tuna, herring, sardines, cod
- Cod liver oil (but isn’t a vitamin D capsule easier to take?)
- Egg yolks (no more egg white omelets)
- Mushrooms (wild mushrooms are better)
- Fortified foods – milk, orange juice, oatmeal, cereal
It’s pretty easy to see that taking a vitamin D supplement is a pretty easy and efficient way to get healthier. Maybe we should change the saying about an apple a day to Vitamin D keeps the doctor away.
1. Implications of vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy and lactation –
2. The Effects of Vitamin D and COVID-Related Outcomes
An overwhelming volume of research makes it clear that this hormone produced in our skin can save lives
BY July 24, 2021
(3). High Doses of Vitamin D May Cut Pregnancy Risks. medicine.net
(4). Vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy – Ambrish Mithal and Sanjay Kalra https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4171878/