Vitamin D is a vital nutrient which helps to build strong, healthy bones and teeth. While this is key for everyone, it is especially important for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers.
While it isn’t uncommon for pregnant women to be deficient in Vitamin D, it can lead to abnormal bone growth, fractures or rickets in newborns if severe.
Symptoms of a Vitamin D deficiency can be subtle – achy muscles, weakness and bone pain could all be mistaken for ‘regular’ aches and pains or tiredness. You can be deficient in Vitamin D without even knowing it.
We get most of our Vitamin D directly from natural sunlight and for people in the UK it won’t shock you to know this can be insufficient. However, there are some foods which pregnant and breastfeeding women can include in their diets to boost Vitamin D intake and provide essential nutrients for baby’s development and growth.
Salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel and fresh tuna. Oily fish is rich in lots of important vitamins and minerals such as Omega-3. Steamed, baked or grilled fish is a healthier choice than fried versions.
Beef, lamb and pork. Choose lean cuts of meat where you can and make sure meats are cooked all the way through. Red meat also helps to boost iron levels.
Egg yolks are rich in Vitamin D. The NHS advises that pregnant and breastfeeding women can eat raw or lightly cooked hen eggs (such as soft-boiled eggs, mousses and fresh mayonnaise) as long as the eggs are produced under a food safety standard called the British Lion Code of Practice. Eggs produced in this way have a red lion logo stamped on their shell. Other eggs should always be cooked thoroughly.
Fortified fat spreads
Some spreads are fortified with Vitamin D, making this a simple swap you can make to increase your daily consumption.
Organic mushrooms grown with plenty of access to sunlight contain high levels of Vitamin D. Some studies have shown that exposing a mushroom to an hour of sunlight before eating it, produces the same levels of Vitamin D as a supplement.
Fortified breakfast cereals
Some ready-to-eat breakfast cereals are fortified with Vitamin D, so you can kick off your day with a dose of vital nutrients.
Some fruit juices contain vital nutrients like calcium, Vitamin C and Vitamin D, making this an easy and convenient way to add them into your diet.