Get the inside scoop on vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy, nursing, and beyond.
By OBGYN and fertility expert Dr. Kenosha Gleaton
Pregnancy and breastfeeding take up a lot of your nutrients, which is why it’s necessary to find the right diet for your body. Let’s dive into what vitamin D does for you and your baby, and how much you should be taking during and after breastfeeding.
The 411 on vitamin D
Vitamin D, AKA the “sunshine vitamin” is vital for healthy teeth, bones, and immune function.
A NHANES study found that nearly 40% of Americans are vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D deficiency is more common during pregnancy, especially among high-risk groups such as vegetarians, women with limited sun exposure, and people with darker skin. Black women and women with darker pigment are even more susceptible to vitamin D deficiency and often require higher doses of vitamin D due to decreased absorption through the skin.
Should I keep taking vitamin D after pregnancy?
Vitamin D can absolutely be supplemented after pregnancy. If you’re nursing or at a higher risk for vitamin D deficiency, it’s even more important that you keep an eye on your vitamin D intake.
Most experts agree that vitamin D supplements are safe in dosages up to 4,000 IU per day during pregnancy and lactation. (These yummy D3 gummies contain 1,000 IU each!) If you’re not breastfeeding or pregnant, the RDA for Vitamin D is around 600 IU, with an upper intake limit of 4,000 IU.
Benefits of vitamin D supplementation while breastfeeding
Because you share a lot of your nutrients while breastfeeding, it’s important to consume an extra 400-500 calories a day of healthy, vitamin-rich foods. Supplementing is a great way to ensure that you’re receiving all the nutrients needed to support your health and the health of your baby.
Research shows that prolonged breastfeeding without vitamin D supplementation can cause rickets in infants. Rickets softens the bones and can lead to bowed legs, mobility delays, and soft skulls.
Taking a vitamin D supplement while breastfeeding helps strengthen teeth and bones and can improve immune function of both baby and mama. In addition to getting vitamin D from breast milk, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfed infants get 400 IU supplement per day of vitamin D beginning in the first few days of life. They recommend babies continue Vitamin D supplementation until the infant is weaned to at least 1 liter per day of vitamin D–fortified formula.
Taking a vitamin D supplement while breastfeeding helps strengthen teeth and bones and can improve immune function of both baby and mama.
How much vitamin D to take while breastfeeding
Vitamin D level recommendations while lactating are equal to those during pregnancy. The consensus from most experts is that vitamin D supplements are safe in dosages up to 4,000 IU a day. Luckily, Natalist D3 gummies contain 1,000 IU each, are naturally sweetened, and taste great. You can also find an optimal dose of vegan vitamin D3 in our women’s prenatal supplement.
How long should I take vitamin D?
There’s really no definite time frame to take vitamins, as long as you’re staying within healthy limits. Depending on your sun exposure and regular diet, taking a vitamin D supplement could be a great habit to keep up post-pregnancy and breastfeeding. Once weaning is complete, consider checking your vitamin D levels through a simple lab test to see if you need continued supplementation. If you take a multivitamin already, find out how much vitamin D it contains, and supplement with an extra vitamin D gummy if necessary. Consult your doctor if you have any questions.
- Vitamin D is also known as the “sunshine vitamin” and is vital for healthy teeth, bones, and immune function.
- Vitamin D supplementation is safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding in daily dosages up to 4,000 IU.
- Vitamin D deficiency in infants can lead to rickets, which is why it’s important to supplement your diet during pregnancy and lactation.