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New Vitamin D Recommendation for Pregnant Women


Pregnant women and their babies can both greatly benefit when vitamin D supplements are taken during pregnancy. While most people have low levels or are deficient in vitamin D, insufficient amounts of the vitamin can be especially harmful for new moms and their infants.

Results of a new study are being announced this weekend at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, and the findings are significant for pregnant women everywhere. While the typical recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adults ranges from 200 to 600 IU depending on age, researchers have determined that pregnant women and their babies can most benefit from 4,000 IU daily.

To arrive at this conclusion, the researchers divided a group of 494 pregnant women at 12 to 16 weeks' gestation into three groups: group one received 400 IU of vitamin D daily until delivery, group two received 2,000 IU, and group three received 4,000 IU. All the women responded well to the dosing.

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The investigators, led by Carol L. Wagner, MD, a pediatric researcher at Medical University of South Carolina, found that women who had the greatest levels of vitamin D also had lower rates of preterm labor, preterm birth, and infection. Because the most pronounced effects were among women who had taken 4,000 IU daily, this is the dose recommended for pregnant women by the researchers.

The 200 IU amount is based on how much of the vitamin is needed to prevent rickets, yet a vitamin D deficiency can cause serious problems at levels that are not low enough to cause rickets. According to the Vitamin D Council, low and deficient levels of vitamin D have been linked to depression, various types of cancer, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, periodontal disease, birth defects, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and hypertension. The list may not be done yet.

The new vitamin D recommendation for pregnant women was shown to benefit both mother and child and to be safe. Results of this study comes on the heels of another, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, which found that a pregnant woman’s vitamin D status affects the bone mineral accumulation and bone size of the fetus. Vitamin D appears to be a critical element for pregnant women and their babies.

Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting
Vijakainen HT et al. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 2010 Apr; 95(4): 1749-57
Vitamin D Council