[This post was written by Cristina Cavanaugh, a registered dietitian on Amwell. Updated August 2020.]
Recent studies show that vitamin D aka the “sunshine” vitamin is essential for a healthy pregnancy. In fact, according to a recent study, women who do not have sufficient levels of vitamin D throughout their pregnancies may be at risk for developing gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
What is vitamin D and why is it important?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for a number of reasons. It is mostly recognized as being important for building strong bones by helping the body absorb calcium. It’s also been linked to decreasing incidences of cancer, multiple sclerosis (MS), and depression to name a few. And, it’s essential for boosting our immune systems.
Where do I find vitamin D?
Sunshine! Beautiful and radiant sunshine! No wonder it feels so good to be warmed up by the sun! Our bodies are made to take the sun’s rays and turn it into vitamin D. Many people today work inside at desk jobs and rarely see the sun.
Very few foods naturally have vitamin D. Foods that do contain vitamin D are dairy products, egg yolks, fatty fish, green leafy vegetables, fortified cereals, and fortified soy milk. However, the levels found in these foods are rather low.
How do I get adequate amounts of vitamin D?
It’s simple: According to the National Institute of Health, 10 to 15 minutes of sunshine three times per week should do it. That is 10 to 15 minutes of sunshine without sunscreen. Pregnant and breastfeeding women need 600 IU per day. So get outside and enjoy the sun!