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Dr. Nicole's Corner:
Vitamin D and Pregnancy
By Dr. Nicole Barry

More than half of pregnant women today do not have sufficient amounts of vitamin D, even with prenatal vitamin supplements as part of their regimen, a University of Pittsburgh study shows.

This study, which appears in February issue of the Journal of Nutrition, evaluates data from 200 black women and 200 white women, randomly selected between 1997 and 2001. The study found 92.4 percent of African-American newborns and 66.1 percent of white babies had insufficient vitamin D levels at birth.

A deficiency in vitamin D for pregnant women directly affects their newborn child: an infant's health before birth comes directly from its mother. Specifically, vitamin D helps fight against rickets, a disease that softens the bones, as well as decreasing the risks of type-1 diabetes and schizophrenia, among other diseases.

These findings support the argument that the upper limit on products containing vitamin D in the United States needs to be raised, along with daily recommended intake values for this nutrient.

"Our study shows that current vitamin D dietary intake recommendations are not enough to meet the demands of pregnancy," said Lisa Bodnar, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate SchExperts have called for the current upper limit of 50 micrograms per day to be raised to 250 micrograms, as well as an increase of the dietary reference intake (DRI) from 10 micrograms per day to 25, or even 50, micrograms.

The vitamin has also been linked to lowering incidences of certain types of cancer, as well as reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

The study reinforces the established racial and seasonal variations that affect levels of vitamin D, which is created in the body as a reaction to sunlight exposure and is less prevalent among darker-skinned people in northern latitudes.

"In both groups, vitamin D concentrations were highest in summer and lowest in winter and spring," said fellow study author Dr. James Roberts. "But differences were smaller between seasons for African-American mothers and babies, whose vitamin D deficiency remained more constant."

The study participants were selected from the over 2,200 women enrolled in the university-affiliated Magee-Womens Research Institute's Pregnancy Exposures and Preeclampsia Prevention Study.

Study reference:
Journal of Nutrition 2007 137: 447-452
Title: "High Prevalence of Vitamin D Insufficiency in Black and White Pregnant Women Residing in the Northern United States and Their Neonates."
Author: Bodnar, Lisa M. et al.

Where do I find Vitamin D?
Vitamin D helps your body to absorb calcium. There are only a few food sources of vitamin D. Good sources of vitamin D are fortified foods and beverages like milk, soy drinks, and margarine (check the labels on these foods). Fish, liver, and egg yolk are the only foods that naturally contain vitamin D. If you do not eat vitamin D rich foods often, you may want to consider taking a vitamin D supplement. Most multiple vitamin supplements contain vitamin D.

Food Serving Vitamin D
Milk 1 Cup 100 IU
Fortified Rice or Soy Beverage 1 Cup 100 IU
Fortified Margarine 2 tsp 53 IU
Salmon, Canned, Pink 3 oz 530 IU
Tuna, Canned, Light 3 oz. 200 IU


In This Issue:
Vitamin D and Calcium Shown to Reduce the Risk of Cancer
Dr. Nicole's Corner: Vitamin D and Pregnancy
Salmon Cooked in Romaine Lettuce

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