Importance of Vitamin D & Vitamin A During Pregnancy

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Increase Daily Intake

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says pregnant women must increase their nutritional daily intake. This is to include three to four servings of fruit and vegetables; nine servings of whole grains, cereal, rice or pasta for added energy; three calcium foods such as milk, cheese, or yogurt; and protein such as fish, eggs, lean red meat, poultry, nuts, dried beans and peas. If the pregnant woman cannot get enough of the above foods, vitamin supplements can be taken, but these need to be at the direction and supervision of her doctor because there are vitamins that shouldn’t be left out at all and others that have to be monitored as to dosage.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A helps keep your skin healthy and smooth, your eyes healthy, promotes strong bones and teeth, keeps mucous membranes resistant to infections, reduces the risk of heart disease, and is important to the development of the baby. This vitamin and beta carotene can be obtained from yellow fruits, carrots, broccoli, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squash, spinach, dark leafy vegetables and greens, milk, eggs, and liver. About 770 mcg of vitamin A each day will help meet requirements.

Vitamin D

This “sunshine vitamin” promotes strong bones and teeth, enables the body to absorb calcium from the digestive tract, provides extra calcium and phosphorus in the body, and can protect against high blood pressure and several autoimmune diseases. In pregnancy, vitamin D is important to prevent the depletion of the mother’s calcium stores, decreases the risk of toxemia, and improves the baby’s development of bones, brain, other organs, nervous system, length of gestation, and birth weight. It can be obtained from fatty fish low in mercury, fortified milk, eggs, and spending time in the sun (10 to 15 minutes at least three times a week).


It is common for women of childbearing age to have a vitamin D deficiency, and this can contribute to osteoporotic fracture later in life. It also affects the skeletal growth and teeth development in the fetus she is carrying and reduced bone-mineral accrual during its childhood. Children who have early-childhood tooth decay usually have mothers who absorbed lower levels of vitamin D during pregnancy. This deficiency mainly occurs in women who spend most of their time indoors and covered up with clothing. Both of these vitamins can be found in alfalfa along with vitamin K which promotes blood clotting, reduces the risk of post-partum hemorrhage, and increases breast milk production.

Importance of Not Overdosing

Too much vitamin A during pregnancy can cause birth defects, so see if your doctor agrees that you shouldn’t take more than 5,000 international units (IU) a day. However, vitamin A from animals (retinol) can cause the defects and is found in some supplements or cod liver oil. It is therefore important to consume the plant-based form (beta-carotene) so there won’t be a risk of harm to the baby. Vitamins from foods tend to be well assimilated and absorbed and have little risk of overdose.


The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Nutrition During Pregnancy, August 2010