Vitamin D Suuplementation Essay

1776 words - 8 pages

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is necessary for skeletal health. It assists in the absorption of calcium from the intestines, and the breakdown and assimilation of phosphorous, both of which are essential for healthy bone and teeth development and function. Vitamin D also helps to maintain a healthy nervous system, normal heart functioning, and normal clotting responses by helping the body absorb calcium (Romm, 2003). The functions of this vitamin are widespread and complex, and in many ways it acts as a hormone. During pregnancy and breastfeeding it facilitates the crucial transfer of calcium from mother to child for skeletal development (Finer, et al., 2011). This paper will ...view middle of the document...

There is also a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women (Yu, Sykes, Sethi, Teoh, & Robinson, 2009). In one study, researchers found a deficiency in up to 84% of pregnant women (Finer, et al., 2011). These deficiencies may result from lower amounts of sunlight exposure because of lifestyle preferences, work schedules, and fear of skin damage and cancer. Sunscreen also prevents the skin’s ability to manufacture adequate levels of vitamin D (Murphy & Wagner, 2008).
Vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy can detrimentally affect women as well as their newborns. It can lead to high bone turnover, osteomalacia, hypovitaminosis, and myopathy in the mother (Yu, Sykes, Sethi, Teoh, & Robinson, 2009). During pregnancy, maternal vitamin D metabolism is altered, which enables the transfer of calcium across the placenta to the growing fetal skeleton. Extra calcium is obtained primarily from increased maternal intestinal calcium absorption, which is a vitamin D dependent process (Finer, et al., 2011). When there is maternal vitamin D deficiency, the maternal skeleton will also be used as a source of calcium for the developing fetus, using parathyroid hormone (PTH) to mobilize calcium in the vitamin D independent process. During breastfeeding, further adaptations involving maternal PTH (which mobilizes calcium in the vitamin D independent process) occur. These calcium mobilizing processes may result in significant calcium losses in the bones of pregnant and lactating women (Finer, et al., 2011). Studies have shown that women often lose 3 to 5 percent of their bone mass during lactation alone (National Institute for Health, 2012).
The amount of vitamin D in breast milk has been found to be low. (Worthington-Roberts, 2000). Maternal sunlight exposure and dietary intake directly affect the vitamin D levels in breast milk. This was demonstrated through a study that measured vitamin D levels in the milk of lactating women before and after a short course of oral vitamin D supplementation or exposure to ultraviolet phototherapy. The vitamin D levels peaked at one week with the oral vitamin D supplementation and two to three days after the ultraviolet phototherapy and then quickly returned to baseline when supplementation or phototherapy stopped. Other studies confirm the direct relationship between maternal and infant levels of vitamin D. This supports the idea that maternal vitamin D intake directly affects the vitamin D concentration in breast milk (Worthington-Roberts, 2000).
Rickets is a disorder caused by a lack of vitamin D that leads to the softening and weakening of the bones (Health P. , 2012). While, rickets is common in many breastfed infants in the Middle East, there has been a resurgence in the last five years of rickets in the United States among breast-fed infants. Neonatal rickets is an uncommon consequence of maternal vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy, but rickets in infants can result from a combination of the lack of...

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