It is difficult to meet the vitamin D needs for pregnant women (600 IU) through diet only. To prevent a deficiency, it is necessary to consume at least 500 ml of milk per day and to take a prenatal vitamin and mineral supplement.
The skin produces vitamin D when it is in contact with the sun’s rays, which usually happens in the summer. An exposure of 10 to 15 minutes, 2-3 times a week, of the arms and face without sunscreen is sufficient to meet the needs. But in the other seasons or during periods where direct sunlight exposure is difficult, the pregnant woman must meet her needs otherwise.
Vitamin D is found naturally in fatty fish (eg. sardines, salmon, trout, herring) and eggs. It is also added to milk and margarine. Some vegetable drinks (eg. soy or almond beverages) and juice (orange juice, apple juice) are sometimes fortified with vitamin D.
Even by consuming a lot of vitamin D-rich foods, it is difficult to fill the needs of pregnant women. Thus, to avoid developing a deficiency, the intake of at least 500 ml of milk a day and a prenatal vitamin and mineral supplement containing 400 IU of vitamin D is needed to cover the daily needs of pregnant women.
At the Montreal Diet Dispensary, nutritionists recommend taking a liter of milk per day and a prenatal vitamin and mineral supplement, which allows pregnant women to get enough vitamin D as well as many other nutrients that are important during pregnancy.