By: Mir Nelofar Nazir
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin.It resembles sterols in structure and functions like a hormone.Vitamin D was isolated by Angus in 1931 who named it Calciferol. Ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) is formed from ergosterol and is present in plants.Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3 ) is found in animals .Both the sterols are similar in structure except that ergocalciferol has an additional methyl group and a double bond . Ergocalciferol and cholecalciferol are sources of vitamin D activity and are referred to as provitamins. Our body makes vitamin D from sunlight on our skin and the other sources include fatty fish,fish liver oil,egg yolk,cheese,beef liver,orange juice etc.From sunlight we make most of our vitamin D usually from late March to the end of the September.In the shade or in cloudy weather our body makes less vitamin D.
Pregnancy is a critical time in the lifecycle of a woman where she is responsible not only for her own well-being, but also that of her developing fetus.Vitamin D is essential for everyone, but it’s extra critical during pregnancy.Most people know that to build and maintain strong bones and teeth, you should eat calcium-rich foods like milk and yogurt. But you might not know that vitamin D plays an equally important role — it’s what enables your body to absorb and hold onto that calcium and other minerals you and your developing baby need.Not only does vitamin D help us absorb calcium so we maintain strong bones, but the fat-soluble vitamin also aids immune function and plays a part in blood sugar regulation. Vitamin D is one of the most essential nutrients for pregnant women, and the vitamin plays a key role in the development of your little one’s bones. Although very rare, in cases of severe malnutrition low levels of vitamin D in pregnancy have been linked to conditions like rickets (a softening of the bones), muscle disease and seizures in a newborn.Maintaining adequate vitamin D levels while you have a baby on board may also lower the risk of complications like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and even low birth weight. And while research is ongoing, studies also suggest that moms-to-be who get enough vitamin D are less likely to go into preterm labor.Pregnant and lactating women should get about 600 IUs (or the equivalent of 15 mcg) of vitamin D per day. Luckily, most prenatal vitamins provide about 400 to 600 IUs of vitamin D, and you can also get the vitamin from certain foods and beverages.
Best foods high in vitamin D for pregnant women
Although not found in large amounts in food, it is possible to get your fix of this nutrient in food form in addition to your prenatal (and you can’t overdose on fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin D by eating foods that are naturally rich in them, even if you’re also taking a prenatal).
Here are some of the best vitamin D-rich foods and beverages to put on your plate:
Rainbow trout (645 IU per 3 ounces, cooked): A 3-ounce serving of rainbow trout serves up more than 100 percent of a pregnant woman’s recommended daily intake for vitamin D. It’s also packed with the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA that support fetal brain development.
Sockeye salmon (570 IU per 3 ounces, cooked): Ditto on salmon. The fatty fish provides a healthy amount of anti-inflammatory omega-3s, as well as vitamin D.
Fortified 2 percent milk (120 IU per 1 cup): Most cow’s milk is fortified with vitamin D, meaning manufacturers add the critical nutrient to their product to ensure consumers are hitting their goals. Cow’s milk is also a great source of calcium and protein, two other important nutrients during pregnancy.
Fortified plant-based milks (100-144 IUs per 1 cup): If you prefer non-dairy milks, opt for a plant-based milk that’s fortified with vitamin D. Check the ingredient list on the package to determine whether the nutrient has been added to the product.
Sardines (46 IU per 2 sardines, canned in oil): While sardines may not be at the top of your cravings list, the mini fishies are a good source of two bone-building nutrients, vitamin D and calcium.
Eggs (44 IU per egg): While they won’t cover your daily vitamin D needs alone, eggs are still a great choice for expecting moms. They also provide protein and choline, which supports fetal brain development and guards against other birth defects. To get your fill of the latter nutrient, be sure to eat the whole egg — not just the egg white — since choline is only found in the yolk.
Author is PG scholar in Dietetics.Tutor / Sr. Technologist at KURC.Author can be reached at [email protected]