How to Get Enough Vitamin D
Our bodies actually produce vitamin D when exposed to the sun. Collins suggests that five to 15 minutes, two to three times a day of sun exposure, with the hands, arms and face exposed to sunlight, will help produce adequate vitamin D. "For women who are not regularly exposed to sunlight, or who work indoors all day, etc., they may not be producing enough," Collins says. "There are foods higher in vitamin D and those include salmon, sardines, shrimp, milk, cod, and eggs. Cod liver oil, fish oil, and some breads/cereals may be enriched with vitamin D. Vitamin D is also found in green peppers, citrus fruits and juices, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, turnip greens and other leafy greens, sweet and white potatoes."
According to current medical wisdom, a pregnant woman should be obtaining at least 400 IU per day, but the Pittsburgh study shows that more is needed. "Our research and others' research has shown that the vitamin D (200-400 IU/d) in a prenatal or multivitamin is not enough to prevent vitamin D deficiency," Dr. Bodnar says. "Experts believe that pregnant women need at least 1,000 IU/d to prevent deficiency. Most people cannot get this amount through food sources and would need to take a supplement."
At your very first appointment, speak to your midwife or physician about pregnancy nutrition so that you are clear on your needs and where you may be deficient. For example, those women who are lactose intolerant, or who do not ingest dairy products for other reasons, may be at a higher risk of deficiency, and would want to discuss this with their provider.
No matter how strong the connection is between vitamin D deficiency and preeclampsia, it is clear that vitamin D is very important for the health of both mother and child. Making sure you are getting enough is the first step toward a healthy pregnancy and delivery.