Friday, September 13, 2013

Vitamin D

Last week I had a general annual physical, which uncovered a Vitamin D deficiency in my blood work.  I received a message from the nurse informing me that recent research suggests Vitamins D is important to prevent certain cancers and autoimmune deficiencies, and advising me to immediately begin daily Vitamin D3 supplements of 2000 IUs.  The nurse was very clear that too much supplemental Vitamin D is not good so I should not take more than the 2000 IUs.  My prenatal vitamin contains 400 IUs though, and I didn't see a 1500 IU dosage available, so I called the nurse back to ask whether I should take 1000 IUs instead of the 2000 IUs.  Apparently when she got my message mentioning a prenatal vitamin, she checked my records and discovered my miscarriage.  She left me a very sweet, encouraging message, and said *not* to take the Vitamin D supplements after all.  What the?! 

So, I did the only thing I knew to do... I started Googling like crazy.  And what I found was frightening, to say the least.  Studies have recently shown that too little Vitamin D could potentially cause fertility issues, impede fetal bone development, cause growth retardation and skeletal deformities, and cause a generally difficult and higher-risk pregnancy {click here, here and here for more info}.  I also found some articles suggesting that too much Vitamin D is equally dangerous, but there doesn't seem to be consensus as to how much is too much.  So now what?

According to this babycenter website entry:
The National Academy of Sciences currently recommends that pregnant women get 200 IUs (5 micrograms) of vitamin D each day if they're not exposed to adequate sunlight (your body makes vitamin D when exposed to the sun).  Many experts believe this amount isn't nearly enough.  And the National Academy of Sciences is reviewing its guidelines on vitamin D, so they may change.
"I recommend that pregnant women take a supplement of 4,000 IU of vitamin D a day. And I recommend that lactating women take a supplement of 6,000 IU daily," says Bruce Hollis, professor of pediatrics at the Medical University of South Carolina, who has researched vitamin D needs.
From everything I've read so far, it seems the risks of NOT taking a 1000 or 2000 IU daily supplement of Vitamin D are greater {especially since I've been deemed as deficient} than the risks of taking such a relatively low dosage of supplement.  But then why did my GP's office warn against doing so???  What don't I know?  Perhaps they're just being overly cautious because they don't specialize in OB?

Today I called my OB's office to get a second opinion on the supplement question.  The nurse who returned my call clearly had no idea what she was talking about from the start.  I explained to her that my GP's office flip-flopped their advice once they found out I was taking a prenatal vitamin, so I wanted a second opinion given that I read online that such a deficiency could cause difficulties trying to conceive and during pregnancy.  I'm pretty sure I even stated outright that I was seeking clarification specifically because I was trying to conceive.  She was speaking in a very dodgy manner, saying that "less is better than more" with pregnancy, and suggested I try to get Vitamin D from food {which, by the way, is not as easy as getting extra Vitamin C, for example} and that my levels were probably low because I hadn't been on the multi-vitamin for long enough, and I should be tested again in a few weeks or months.  That's when I interjected to clarify that I'd already been on the prenatals for 6 months and was just diagnosed as deficient last week.  To which she responded:  "Oh, ok.  Let's see, you're 25 weeks along right?"  {Insert sharp gut punch here.}  I mumbled back that I'd had a miscarriage, which was surprising to her because apparently my "file is still open".  WTF does that mean and how is that possible, seeing as THEY treated me when I miscarried?!?!  I really hate doctor's offices.  Anyway... I ended the conversation with charlatan advice that I could "occasionally" take "a little of the supplement" while trying to conceive, but that I should stop taking it if/when I discover I'm pregnant.

I'm now totally confused AND really annoyed...

I'm tempted to take matters into my own hands and start taking a 1000 IU supplement every other day.  I mean, if I'm deficient, could that small amount really put me over the edge into the danger zone when there are doctors advising that 4000 and even 6000 IUs are acceptable during pregnancy???  Apparently healthy levels are between 32-100, and mine are 29.4, so although I'm not too far below the lower limit, there is a huge gap between the lower and upper limits.  I don't know what to do and really wish my doctor weren't being so dodgy about this stupid Vitamin D stuff!

If anyone out there has experience or information on this topic, PLEASE comment!  I'll take all the advice, anecdotes and even old wives' tales I can get right now!  ;)


  1. I don't know anything about vitamin D, but I feel your frustration on the conflicting information. And that had to be a punch in the gut to hear the nurse tell you how far along you would be. How could that not be noted in your file?? I'm so sorry. I hope you get some answers soon. Hugs to you!

  2. Ugh...that's so frustrating. Hope you get some answers soon and are one step closer to a healthy baby!


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