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Vitamin D: Let the Sunshine Vitamin In!

Most of us know vitamin D as the sunshine vitamin, created when your skin responds to sunlight and also as a nutrient in certain foods. It’s important in human health for a number of reasons, but why is vitamin D in pregnancy so important and why is supplementation usually called for? Well, vitamin D is an integral component in your immune system, regulates the absorption of calcium and phosphorus connected to the normal growth of bones and teeth, and it can reduce even help with depression. Even though vitamin D is produced naturally when your skin is directly exposed to light and can be found in food sources such as fatty fish (salmon, sardines, etc.) egg yolks, shrimp, and fortified milk, cereal, yogurt, and orange juice, even non-pregnant people with highly varied diets often need to supplement.

What happens if you don’t have enough vitamin D? Lack of this nutrient risks bone abnormalities (soft or fragile bones), depression, and poor immune function. Why is it so hard to get enough vitamin D without supplements? Many factors can affect your absorption of vitamin D, including being in a high pollution area, wearing sunscreen, spending time indoors, and living in big cities where buildings block sunlight, even having darker skin can be an issue – the same melanin that protects your skin from the sun also makes vitamin D less easy for the body to manufacture. Symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency include tiredness, aches, pains, a general sense of unease, all the way up to bone and muscle pain.

An important review of the data associated with vitamin D and posted in the Cochrane library asserts that vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy can reduce the risk of a number of conditions pregnant women occasionally develop. These conditions include preeclampsia, marked by high blood pressure and high levels of protein in urine, along with swelling in feet legs and hands. Another frequent issue that vitamin can help with is gestational diabetes, which can cause high blood sugar and affect the health of the baby. Other benefits of vitamin D supplementation include preventing low birth weight and reducing the risk of severe postpartum hemorrhage. So, listen to your doctor and take the prescribed amount of vitamin D along with a healthy and diverse diet. Ask your doctor, but a bit of safe exposure to the sun might also help.

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