According to a new study, pregnant women could — and probably should –consume 10 times more vitamin D than current guidelines recommend, according to CNN/Health.com.
This news comes just a couple of months after a study saying that babies need more vitamin D.
Doctors had long worried that too much vitamin D during pregnancy could cause birth defects, but new research shows that doubling vitamin D could in fact, reduce the risk of complications.
Current guidelines for daily vitamin D intake during pregnancy range from 200 international units (IU) per day to 400 IU, the amount found in most prenatal vitamins.
Check with your physician before changing your vitamin D intake since it’s still not yet clear whether high doses of vitamin D are safe earlier in pregnancy. The study only examined women in their second and third trimesters.
The study, funded by The National Institutes of Health, looked at 500 women who took either 400, 2,000, or 4,000 IU of vitamin D per day. The women who took 4,000 IU were least likely to go into labor early, give birth prematurely, or develop infections.
“Pregnant women need to take 4,000 IU of vitamin D a day,” says Bruce Hollis, Ph.D., the director of pediatric nutritional sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina, in Charleston, and one of the authors of the study. “We didn’t see a single adverse effect. It was absolutely safe, and we saw a lot of improved outcomes. The risk of preterm labor was vastly decreased and so was the risk of other complications of pregnancy.”
Hollis said the fears about to much vitamin D in pregnancy were based n misconceptions and are unfounded.
Vitamin D is apparently the new wonder drug. Studies in adults have linked vitamin D deficiency to an array of serious health problems, including heart disease, certain cancers, osteoporosis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, and some autoimmune disorders.
While you can get vitamin D in dairy products, the only practical way to consume the recommended amount of vitamin D is to take supplements.
The body produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, but with our generally sedentary lifestyle and concerns about skin cancer, people’s time in the sun is limited.
Experts blame vitamin D deficiencies in the population on the decrease in sun exposure as well as the growing obesity epidemic (since fat traps vitamin D).
Institute of Medicine, an independent organization that advises the U.S. government on health matters, could raise its recommendations for vitamin D intake, including those for pregnant women (200 IU per day) and the maximum safe daily dose (2,000 IU) as early as this summer.