Vitamin supplements designed for pregnant women may still not be providing them with sufficient vitamin D, research from the Northern Ireland Centre for Food and Health suggests.
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to rickets and lower bone density in children and the Food Standards Agency recommends that pregnant women take a daily dose of 10 micrograms of the vitamin
But the researchers found that out of a sample of expectant mothers living in Northern Ireland, 96 per cent had insufficient levels of vitamin D in their blood when tested between week 12 and 20 of their pregnancy.
During the third trimester, at 35 weeks, 75 per cent had insufficient levels of the vitamin and 16 per cent of women could be technically described as “deficient”.
Researcher Dr Valerie Holmes said the percentage of women with insufficient levels was “remarkable”.
The main source of Vitamin D is synthesis following exposure to sunlight and Dr Holmes said Northern Ireland’s northern latitude made the issue of dietary intake of vitamin D even more important.
“While vitamin D status was improved in women who reported taking multivitamin supplements, many still had insufficient levels, suggesting that the amount present in multivitamins formulated for pregnancy may be too low to maintain adequate levels,” she said.
“Stores of vitamin D in the newborn baby depend on the mother’s levels during pregnancy and where deficiency is severe there is an increased risk of rickets.”