A few months ago I went to the Dr. to have some blood work done. My doctor wanted a “full workup” since I was expecting my third child. About a month later, during my next appointment, the nurse told me that I was one of the first pregnant women that they had tested in a while who had normal vitamin D levels. When I asked what my level was, they told me 34.3.
Although I tested within what the general medical community would define as the “normal” range (30-70), I was disappointed. I had been going to a holistic pharmacist who had me on 5,000IUs a day. But when I found out I was expecting, I wasn’t sure how this would affect the baby and cut back to what was provided in my natal vitamin, plus an extra 1000IUs. It also didn’t make me feel any better to hear my nurse tell me that her number was 6 when tested, so that my 34.3 was “really good.” Seriously, I was concerned for her health if her vitamin D was a mere 6, and I was concerned about all of the other pregnant women walking around deficient in vitamin D.
I recently called my holistic pharmacist because I couldn’t remember what range he had suggested. He told me that recent studies have shown that a range of 50-70 is “normal,” and that 60 would be optimal for most people.
What is vitamin D?
According to the NIH, “Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in very few foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. It is also produced endogenously when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis.”
And as we all know, no one is getting enough sunlight these days, especially throughout the winter months.
Why does my body need vitamin D?
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, which is needed for bone growth and overall bone health, and helps prevent osteoporosis in adults and rickets in children. According to the NIH, laboratory and animal studies suggest that vitamin D could help prevent colon, prostate and breast cancers. Additionally, “a growing body of research suggests that vitamin D might play some role in the prevention and treatment of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance, multiple sclerosis, and other medical conditions.” In fact, studies have shown that taking vitamin D seems to reduce women’s risk of getting Multiple Sclerosis by up to 40%!
What about my exclusively breastfed baby, who doesn’t get vitamin D from the sun or other food sources?
The NIH also states that “Prolonged exclusive breastfeeding without the AAP-recommended vitamin D supplementation is a significant cause of rickets, particularly in dark-skinned infants breastfed by mothers who are not vitamin D replete.” In other words, if you exclusively breastfeed your baby, you should discuss adding a daily vitamin D liquid vitamin to your infant’s breastmilk. We gave D Vi Sol, a vitamin D supplement, to both of our girls while they were exclusively breastfed, to prevent rickets.
So how do you find out your (or your child’s) vitamin D level, you ask?
Quite simple, really. The next time you to go to the doctor, ask for a blood test. It takes less than 5 minutes.
-Have you had your vitamin D levels checked recently?
-Are you currently taking a vitamin D supplement?
Chlebowski RT, Johnson KC, Kooperberg C, Pettinger M, Wactawski-Wende J, Rohan T, Rossouw J, Lane D, O’Sullivan MJ, Yasmeen S, Hiatt RA, Shikany JM, Vitolins M, Khandekar J, Hubbell FA; Women’s Health Initiative Investigators. Calcium plus vitamin D supplementation and the risk of breast cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2008 Nov 19;100(22):1581-91.