The Consequences of Vitamin D Deficiency During Pregnancy

Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy can cause serious health problems in the development of the fetus and the mother. Learn more.
The Consequences of Vitamin D Deficiency During Pregnancy
Saúl Sánchez Arias

Written and verified by the nutritionist Saúl Sánchez Arias.

Last update: 03 December, 2022

Maintaining nutrient levels in optimal ranges is essential during all stages of life. However, experiencing deficiencies at certain times can be especially harmful. Therefore, we’re going to tell you what the consequences of vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy are.

First of all, you have to keep in mind that this nutrient can be obtained through your diet, although there’s also an endogenous production dependent on sunlight.

These are the possible consequences of vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy

The best way to ensure that vitamin D requirements are covered is to be exposed to sunlight frequently, although you can also resort to some foods. However, a deficiency of this nutrient during pregnancy could cause the following consequences.

Low birth weight

One of the first consequences of vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy is low birth weight in the newborn. According to a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, this nutrient is essential for good muscle and bone development.

Preterm birth

A regular supply of the element is crucial in order to ensure that the growth of the fetus is adequate during the weeks of gestation. Premature delivery may even occur if the levels of this nutrient aren’t adequate.

In addition to exposure to sunlight, oily fish, eggs, and fortified dairy products should be included in the diet. A supplement can also be beneficial to correct deficiencies. However, this must be prescribed and supervised by a specialist.

A pregnant woman checking her blood sugar.
One of the consequences of vitamin D deficiency is an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes. In addition, neurological alterations could develop in the baby.

The development of gestational diabetes

Another of the consequences of low vitamin D levels during pregnancy can be an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes, as well as other alterations linked to the mother’s metabolism. This is evidenced by research published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.

Neurological alterations in the baby

Also, neurological alterations may be experienced in the baby, as well as an increased risk of developing autoimmune problems. Many inflammatory diseases are linked to adequate levels of the nutrient, so it’s important to ensure that the requirements are met during all stages of life.

Is it necessary to supplement with vitamin D during pregnancy?

A frequent question has to do with the need to include vitamin D supplementation in the nutritional regimen during pregnancy. The truth is that the best way to ensure that the needs of the nutrient are covered is through frequent exposure to sunlight.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, so there are deposits of it in the body that are maintained in the medium term. Therefore, it’s essential to ensure that during the periods with the longest daylight hours, exposure to ultraviolet radiation takes place on a regular basis. In any case, certain habits should be maintained to protect the skin.

However, if serum vitamin D levels are found to be deficient, it’s best to opt for supplementation. Achieving a good status of this nutrient through food alone could be complicated. In fact, it’s not always feasible to increase the amount of sunshine received. Therefore, it’s possible to opt for a nutritional supplement to correct the problem.

This strategy avoids alterations related to the development of the fetus while improving the mother’s health. It’s important to take into account that the vitamin is involved in the fixation of calcium in the bones and in its absorption at an intestinal level. Maintaining a deficit situation could mean an increased risk of osteoporosis for women.

Sources of vitamin D, including eggs, cheese, tuna, salmon, and mushrooms.
Foods such as salmon, caviar, cheese, or eggs contain vitamin D. In addition, if the levels of the nutrient are deficient, supplementation can be used.

It’s essential to avoid vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy

As mentioned above, it’s essential to avoid vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy. This nutrient has many functions within the body. For example, it acts to protect bone health and also ensures proper muscle development. It also has effects on nerve development and inflammatory levels.

In the medium term, a deficit of this nutrient is associated with an increased risk of developing complex diseases. As far as the gestation period is concerned, experiencing an inadequate intake negatively conditions the health of the fetus by causing alterations in its growth. To prevent this condition from occurring, nutrient levels should be monitored and frequent exposure to the sun should be ensured.

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  • Pilz, S., Zittermann, A., Obeid, R., Hahn, A., Pludowski, P., Trummer, C., Lerchbaum, E., Pérez-López, F. R., Karras, S. N., & März, W. (2018). The Role of Vitamin D in Fertility and during Pregnancy and Lactation: A Review of Clinical Data. International journal of environmental research and public health15(10), 2241. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15102241
  • Agarwal, S., Kovilam, O., & Agrawal, D. K. (2018). Vitamin D and its impact on maternal-fetal outcomes in pregnancy: A critical review. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition58(5), 755–769. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2016.1220915

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