Vitamin D

Essential for healthy bones
Vitamin D is best known for its role in bone health. Vitamin D is important for both mother and baby and blood levels need to be adequate during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

It is vital that mothers and mother-to-be have normal vitamin D levels. This ensures that when their baby is in the womb it develops normally and that the newborn baby continues to get adequate vitamin D from breast milk.

If a mother has low level of vitamin D, it is possible for the baby to be born with, or develop, rickets (also called soft bones). This is because there is a lack of calcium and phosphorus absorbed from the gut.  Without enough vitamin D, calcium and phosphorus will be in short supply for building strong bones.  See for further information about rickets.

Rickets is uncommon and is the display of severe vitamin D deficiency.  Low levels of vitamin D have also been associated with increased risks of many other conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, allergies and the body’s ability to fight infections.  Because vitamin D has many roles in maintaining good health, it is best to keep vitamin D levels in the normal range.

People usually get most of their vitamin D from exposing their skin to sunshine. A small number of foods contain vitamin D including fatty fish like salmon, cheese, egg yolks, and liver. Some foods like margarine have vitamin D added to them, and in some countries (but not in Australia) dairy products are also fortified with vitamin D.

  • Who is at risk of vitamin D deficiency (low vitamin D levels)?

    -People who do not expose their skin to sunlight

    -People with dark skin

    -People who are obese

    -People with medical conditions that affect how the body controls vitamin levels (for example, liver or kidney problems) or who take medications that interfere with vitamin D metabolism (like anticonvulsants)

    -Exclusively breastfed infants who are always shielded from sunlight or with mothers with at least one of the above risk factors

    -Testing for vitamin D status is advised for people who are at risk of vitamin D deficiency.

    For more information: Click Here

  • What to do to maintain good vitamin D levels?

    -Expose your skin to sunlight in a sun-safe way.  For more information Click Here

    -Eat some vitamin D containing foods like fatty fish, egg yolks, cheese or foods supplemented with vitamin D.

    -Extra care needs to be taken to for breastfed babies because breastmilk does not contain much vitamin D and babies generally should not be exposed to direct sunlight.  The best way to protect breastfed infants from low vitamin D levels is to ensure that the mother has good vitamin D levels during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

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