Yesterday a colleague of mine came to me and told me that his wife is 6 months pregnant and has a Vitamin D level of 15nmol/L and he continued by saying that the doctor suggested her to take 2 Vitamin D tablets a day from now on. I was literally in shock, with a Vitamin D level of 15nmol/L which is categorised as severe Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy is rather serious and if the treating doctor had paid attention to any recent clinical guidelines, the dosage suggested would have been more than just 2 Vitamin D tablets (2000IU of Vitamin D supplementation).
Have a look at the clinical guidelines for Vitamin D deficiency above which is taken from King Edward Memorial Women's Hospital in Perth, WA, Australia. They actually recommend taking 5000IU of Vitamin D plus calcium for 6 weeks if Vitamin D level is below 50nmol/L. It makes me wonder how can a treating doctor be so out of date with the current treatment plan and why didn't he/she highlight the importance of maintaining optimum Vitamin D level in pregnancy?
Interestingly, my colleague's wife has actually been taking a certain brand of Vitamin D supplementation ever since she found out that she was pregnant. All I have to say is maybe that brand is pretty low quality. If you would like to know further details, please email me.
Effects of low maternal Vitamin D includes:
- Low serum calcium in newborns, with or without convulsions
- Defective tooth enamel
- Lower birth rates and higher risk of small for gestational age
- Lower newborn bone mineral
- Affects fetal femoral bone development
- Greater risk for multiple sclerosis, cancer, insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, and schizophrenia in later life
Population that should be screened for Vitamin D deficiency:
- Dark skin population
- Have limited exposure to sunlight (tend to be indoors/ protected from sun when outdoors)
- Pre-pregnancy BMI > 40
I cannot stress enough the importance of Vitamin D and how common it is to find a person who is deficient in Vitamin D these days due to the risks of developing skin cancers with extreme sun exposures. In fact, a few of my close friends who are taking multivitamins think that there is enough Vitamin D supplementation in it! To be honest most multivitamins consist of minute amount of Vitamin D and it is not enough for good Vitamin D level maintenance.
The take home note, each and every pregnant woman should know their Vitamin D levels and understand the importance of maintaining the level throughout pregnancy.
Dr Nicole Ng (MBBS) is a medical doctor with a passion in women's health and medical research