The main sources of vitamin D are sun exposure and foods that contain vitamin D. Getting enough vitamin D is hard to achieve through diet alone. Most people can get enough vitamin D through exposure to sunlight.
If you are at risk of vitamin D deficiency, talk to your midwife, doctor or dietitian. Your doctor can prescribe a vitamin D supplement called colecalciferol, which is a tablet you take once a month during your pregnancy.
Most people can get enough vitamin D through exposure to sunlight.
- From September to April, a daily walk in the early morning or late afternoon with your face, arms and hands exposed is recommended.
- At the height of summer, as little as 6–8 minutes of sun exposure may be enough.
- During May to August outdoor activity is best scheduled around noon, as about 30–50 minutes of sun exposure is needed to produce the same amount of vitamin D.
- People with darker skin may require 3 to 6 times more sun exposure to achieve equivalent levels of vitamin D production.
Sunlight directly on the skin is important – sunlight through glass doesn't work, as glass blocks out the ultraviolet B rays needed to make Vitamin D.
Exposing your skin to the sun must be sensible. You should never get sunburnt. Read more about sensible sun exposure.
Food sources of vitamin D
Vitamin D is found in small quantities in a few foods such as fatty fish (North Sea salmon, herring and mackerel).
Liver, eggs and fortified foods such as margarine and some low-fat dairy products (milk and yoghurt) also contain very small amounts of vitamin D.
However, it's hard to get enough vitamin D through your diet alone.
Supplements for vitamin D
It is not recommended to take supplements other than folic acid and iodine (such as multivitamins for pregnancy) and you must only take supplements on the advice of your doctor or midwife.
However, if you are at high risk of vitamin D deficiency, talk to your midwife, doctor or dietitian. Your doctor can prescribe a vitamin D supplement called colecalciferol, which is a tablet you take once a month during your pregnancy. Some women may only need this during the winter months. If your doctor prescribes some vitamin D supplements for you, it is important that you take them regularly to ensure your developing baby has enough vitamin D.