How to get your Vitamin D

At my 28 week OB appointment, a lot of fun (not really!) tests occurred, including a routine blood test.  In that test they found my Vitamin D level was low.  This is not the first time I’ve been diagnosed with low Vitamin D levels, but it has been several years since I’ve had an issue with it.  So, back onto Vitamin D supplements I go.

But me being me, I’d rather get my nutrients naturally instead of by popping a pill.  So I started researching Vitamin D.  I knew it was found in dairy products and you can get Vitamin D from the sun, but that was pretty much it.


The sun factor is interesting though – as the entire month of December seemed to be cloud-covered and rain-filled in NC.  So that could have played a role in my low numbers.  And while I do eat dairy, I got tired of checking to see if dairy items were pasteurized or not, so I stuck to the basics I knew were pregnancy-safe.  And that led to food boredom and me not reaching for the dairy snacks as much as I probably should.  I didn’t give it much thought because I take a daily prenatal vitamin, but I guess I should have.

So what does Vitamin D do for us?  Best answer: bone strength.  It helps our bodies absorb calcium, and calcium makes our bones nice and strong.  So too little Vitamin D can lead to weak and brittle bones.

Vitamin D has also been linked to heart disease.  It was my cardiologist who first diagnosed me with Vitamin D deficiency many years ago.  While they are not sure what the link is between D and your heart, studies find you are more at risk for heart attacks and heart disease when you are D deficient.

How do you get Vitamin D?  Best answer: the sun.  This is why so many people have low levels of Vitamin D.  Your skin needs to absorb the dangerous ultraviolet rays from the sun for a daily dose of Vitamin D.  But of course we all wear sunscreen and avoid the sun’s rays for fear of skin cancer.  And with my fair Irish skin, I definitely do this!  Health professionals say 15 minutes a day of direct sunlight should be adequate for Vitamin D absorption, and if timed right, you can avoid getting burned and putting yourself at risk for skin cancer.

Other Answers: Food.  Vitamin D comes naturally in some foods, such as fatty fishes, beef liver, eggs and cheese, but the levels in these foods is actually pretty low.  And since I don’t eat 2 of the 4, that leaves me little food to work with.

There are plenty of food items that are fortified with Vitamin D out there though – such as most milks, as well as some varieties of breakfast cereals, yogurts and juices.  Those I can do!  I don’t drink milk, but I’ve started using milk instead of water in my oatmeal.  And a glass of chocolate milk is a nice treat for me every now and then.  OJ is usually not in my diet, but is oddly one of my pregnancy cravings – so I always opt for the Vitamin D fortified versions.  And I try to eat yogurt several times a week, though breakfast cereals have not been appealing to me lately.


Even with these changes, I still take my vitamin.  If you have been told you have low Vitamin D levels and are looking for a supplement, opt for Vitamin D3, not D2 or D4, which I have found in some vitamins.  Your body will use Vitamin D3 just as it would naturally eaten or sun-made Vitamin D.

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