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New findings published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology suggest that women who develop preeclampsia have lower blood levels of vitamin D than healthy moms-to-be, Reuters reports. Most experts recommend a vitamin D blood level of at least 42 nanograms per milliliter for overall good health. The women in the study who suffered from preeclampsia had an average of 18 nanograms per milliliter, according to the Reuters report.
Preeclampsia is a complication involving high blood pressure, swelling and abnormal kidney function that occurs in 2 percent to 3 percent of pregnancies in the U.S. Preeclampsia is a silent danger that can sneak up on the healthiest of women. But it can be treated if caught in time.
Currently, the daily recommended vitamin D intake for pregnant women is 200 IU to 400 IU. Most prenatal vitamins contain 400 IU. However, in a separate study, researchers at the University of South Carolina found that a 4,000 dose can be better for moms-to-be. "The study ... showed women replete in vitamin D had lower rates of preterm labor and preterm birth, and lower rates of infection," according to Carol Wagner, M.D., the study's lead author, as quoted in Science Daily.
Getting enough D can be tough, though. For many people—especially expectant women and young children—sunscreen, protective clothes and lack of outdoor time limit sun exposure. According to our experts, vitamin D is found in fortified milk and cereals; certain types of fish, such as tuna, sardines and salmon; and supplements. Exposing your body to sunlight can also help you raise your D levels.
For more on vitamin D, plus the top 20 super foods that are packed with essential nutrients for moms-to-be, check out our Power Hungry feature.