Vitamin D supports normal bone growth, development and immune system function in children – but what about pregnant women? This is what many expectant mothers are wondering, as they only want the best for themselves and their baby. We examine why the “sunshine vitamin” is also important during pregnancy, how high the vitamin D level should be in pregnant women and what else there is to be considered for expectant mothers with regard to vitamin D.

Why is vitamin D important?

An adequate supply of nutrients is a topic that parents-to-be often deal with, especially during pregnancy. While there is an increased need for some vitamins and minerals, the daily need for vitamin D does not change during pregnancy, but the “sunshine” vitamin still plays a role in this phase of life. Both the placenta and the developing tissue are equipped with vitamin D receptors. The emergence of new life is inevitably associated with lively cell division. In addition to folic acid, vitamin B12, magnesium, zinc and iron, vitamin D also plays a role in cell division.

But the sunshine vitamin also supports the expectant mother at other levels too. Vitamin D as a regulator of calcium and phosphate metabolism, plays a key role in normal bone metabolism sufficient care is important for the maintenance of normal bones and teeth. In addition, the vitamin is also important when it comes to immunological clout too, as it contributes to the normal function of the immune system.

  • The effect of vitamin D in short:
  • Vitamin D is involved in cell division
  • Vitamin D contributes to the normal absorption/use of calcium and phosphorus and to the maintenance of normal bones and teeth
  • Vitamin D contributes to the maintenance of muscle function
  • Vitamin C contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system

Requirement: How much vitamin D do you need during pregnancy?

Vitamin D is the only vitamin that is supplied primarily through the sun rather than through the diet. In the event that the body's own creation of the vitamin is not given or difficult to achieve – whether due to it being winter or because you are usually indoors between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. – the German Nutrition Society (DGE) has defined so-called "estimated values for an appropriate supply". For pregnant women, this guideline is 20 μg vitamin D (= 800 IU) daily – the guideline is the same as for children from one year of age, adolescents and adults as well as for breastfeeding women.

Vitamin D levels during pregnancy

Mothers-to-be may well wonder what their own vitamin D level is like. A laboratory diagnostic determination can throw light on this here. To determine the vitamin D status, vitamin D is measured as 25 hydroxy vitamin D3 in the blood and, depending on the laboratory, either indicated as nmol/l or as ng/ml*. The same reference values as for adults also apply here.

Normal ranges

25 hydroxy vitamin D serum level (nmol/l)

25 hydroxy vitamin D serum level (ng/ml) (-> equivalent to "μgl/L")

Sufficient supply

75 – 100 nmol/L

30 – 40 ng/ml

Optimum supply

100 – 150 nmol/L

40 – 60 ng/ml

* Conversion from nmol/l to ng/ml: Simply divide the value in nmol/l by 2.5.

Vitamin D substitution: everything about administration and dosage

Can you take vitamin D during pregnancy?

Yes. Vitamin D may also be taken during pregnancy. It is even recommended that the vitamin D level in the blood should be measured and supplemented if necessary.

How much vitamin D should you take during pregnancy?

It is best to clarify with your treating physician or your midwife how much vitamin D you should take during pregnancy. A blood test gives the experts the opportunity to get an idea of the current vitamin D status of the expectant mother and, if necessary, to react with an optimally coordinated dosage.

Should you take high-dose vitamin D?

High-dose vitamin D should not be taken without a the recommendation of a healthcare professional, as they are trained to decide on the dosage and duration of administration on a case-by-case basis.

Which vitamin D supplements are suitable during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, particularly pure and high-quality vitamin D supplements (e.g. formulation free of additives if possible, trustworthy quality manufacturer) should be used and the dosage should also be selected appropriately in consultation with healthcare professionals.

Vitamin D tablets or drops - which vitamin D supplement is best?

Pregnant women who decide to supplement the sunshine vitamin are spoilt for choice: Drops, capsules and tablets are probably the most common forms on the market – but which product is best?

First off: There is no ultimate vitamin D preparation that suits everyone. However, what should always be paramount when choosing a product is the quality and the correct dosage.

Vitamin D drops are indicated by the fact that the fat-soluble vitamin is already dissolved in the oily environment. In addition, drops are pleasant to take and can be dosed individually. Less ideal is the often lower shelf life of drops compared to capsules or tablets.

The most common pharmaceutical form on the market is vitamin D in tablet form. Here too, there are variants where oil is included for improved vitamin D uptake. However, many tablet products contain not only active ingredients but also unnecessary additives (such as colourings and flavourings) and are therefore less advisable.

Vitamin D capsules are often attractive due to their special purity, since they are usually without additives, they are hygienic and have a relatively long shelf life without additives. Preparations that do not automatically include oil should always be taken with a fatty meal in order to be able to absorb the vitamin well into the body.

Folic acid and vitamin D in pregnancy

Folic acid and vitamin D can be easily combined during pregnancy. Just like vitamin D, folic acid also plays a role in cell division. Through this function, folic acid also contributes to the growth of maternal tissue during pregnancy.

Vitamin D before pregnancy

Once women are planning to have children, they should prepare themselves for a possible pregnancy with well-filled nutrient stores. Particularly important here is folic acid, but vitamin D should also be taken into account (among others). In order to start the pregnancy in an optimum state, the vitamin D status should be measured in advance and, if necessary, supplemented.

Conclusion: The body of a expecting mother provides everything during pregnancy – and so it should also be given everything it needs to support both itself and this new, growing life. In this astonishing time, vitamin D, in addition to the better-known folic acid, deserves attention. Based on a blood sample, a doctor can determine with confidence the respective vitamin D level of the pregnant woman and respond to the individual care situation with customised vitamin D doses.

More articles
Vitamin D for babies & newborns: yes or no?
Vitamin D for babies & newborns: yes or no?
Breast milk and high-quality infant formula are perfectly tailored to the needs of babies. But why is vitamin D still recommended for little ones? Is it not enough to spend a lot of time outdoors with your baby and to absorb the vitamin through...
Magnesium in pregnancy
Why this powerful nutrient is so important for mothers & their children: Creating new life is incredibly physically taxing, and goes hand in hand with a steep increase in your nutrient requirements. One of the essential factors in ensuring a...
Iron deficiency during pregnancy and breastfeeding
Iron deficiency is a common phenomenon during pregnancy. In fact, about one in three pregnant women suffers from this. Find out here how expectant mothers can identify iron deficiency, how medical professionals make the diagnosis and much more.