Saturday, October 17, 2009

New Study: Vitamin D3 Supplementation During Pregnancy Reduces Premature Births And Improves Newborn Health

Vitamin D experts Dr. Bruce Hollis and Dr. Carol Wagner of the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, have presented results of a new trial of vitamin D supplementation in pregnant women at at an international research conference in Bruges.

They gave gave group of pregnant women 4,000 IUs per day of vitamin D at about three months of pregnancy. They gave a second group 400 IUs per day, the amount recommended by U.S. and UK governments.

They monitored the blood and urine of trial participants to make sure calcium and vitamin D levels remained within safe ranges. They found no side effects in either group.

They found the following benefits among the women who took 4000 IUs of D3 per day, compared to the controls taking 400 IUs:

1) Risk for premature birth reduced by half.
2) Reduced incidence of small babies.
3) Twenty-five percent reduced risk for infections, particularly respiratory infections such as colds and flu as well as infections of the vagina and the gums.
4) Reduced risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, and preeclampsia.

In addition, babies getting the most vitamin D after birth had a reduced incidence of colds and eczema.

Source:, Vitamin D can save half million babies each year: study


Hiit Mama said...

Thanks for this information. I am pregnant with my second baby and am always interested in learning as much as possible about growing a healthy child.

Pete said...

Hi Don, was wondering what your thoughts were on excess Vitamin D consumption causing kidney stones. I've been supplementing with 1-2000 IU of D3 and eating a quasi paleo diet for the last 7 months and have lost 35 pounds and feel great. However, I've just been diagnosed with kidney stones and am wondering if they were pre-exisitng, or may have been caused by too much vitamin d or sudden weight loss. any thoughts? thanks,

TedHutchinson said...

Some of the preliminary findings of the Hollis and Wagner research are available online at Breastfeeding Medicine in the free PDF
DoesVitamin D make the world go round?

This paper provides a detailed, reasonably up to date (not that anyone can easily stay up to date with the current pace of vitamin d research) view of the current state of Vitamin D knowledge.

Bear in mind Charleston (where Hollis works) is around latitude 32 those living north of 42 may well need more Vitamin D3 to achieve the same result particularly where milk/cereals are not vitamin D3 fortified. (UK)

Although 4000iu/daily/D3 met the needs of the mother, to achieve optimum amounts of vitamin D flowing in human breast milk they found 6400iu/d was required.

Anyone concerned about overdoing it can be reassured with a
Grassrootshealth D Action 25(OH)D postal test
and the knowledge that up to 10,000iu/daily is absolutely safe even in places with adequate sun availability.

For those who aren't breastfeeding but who think D3 replete human breast milk may be a natural biomarker of D3 sufficiency status, here are some other reasons why attaining and maintaining a natural 25(OH)D level above 55ng/ml =135nmol/l is a good idea.
Chart showing Disease prevention by 25(OH)D level

Thackray said...


Have you seen this:



Philip Thackray

Don said...


I would not consider 1-2000 IU of D daily "excessive." I don't know of any evidence that this level would cause kidney stones. The Vieth paper Ted provided a link to has this statement:

"The evidence is very strong that there is no hypercalcemia,
and no hypercalcinuria, associated with supplementary
vitamin D intakes of at least 10,000 IU per day, in addition
to the background vitamin D that healthy North American
adults acquire through the usual course of modern life."

If Vieth is correct (I think so), it is highly unlikely your sue of D increased calcium excretion to support kidney stone formation, since you stayed well below 10K IU.

However, when taking D I recommend taking K2 to prevent pathological calcifications. I generally would judge stones to represent K2-deficiency, not D-excess. Without knowing any more about your situation, I would guess these were pre-existing.


Thanks for the links.


I skimmed the article. I need to read it more carefully, but I did not find it particularly convincing on the first round. I see one of the authors is Trevor Marshall. For right now I will accept the verdict of Dr. Cannell as reprinted at Dr. Wm Davis's Heart Scan Blog:

The Marshall Protocol and other fairy tales:

Cannell says: "No one in the vitamin D field takes him [Trevor Marshall] seriously."

Here's another article on Marshall's hypothesis, again I only had time to skim it, and it appears to point out a number of problems with Marshall's hypothesis:

Ross said...

Love it! My wife has been taking 4000-6000 IU's/day D3 since before our first child was conceived (second pregnancy is at 13 weeks). She also takes the LEF "super-K" supplement (K1, K2-4, K2-7). Just recently she had to explain to the OB about supplements and the OB's eyebrows went way up at mention of 6000 IU's/day D3 but acquiesced to adding a 25(OH)D blood test to the mix.

To Pete: Vitamin D2 (plant-based) and D3 (animal-based) have different risks of hypercalcemia and it's important that you don't take D2 when you need D3. D3's risk is essentially zero up to 10,000 IU's/day. D2's risk is substantially higher. D2's effectiveness at triggering Vitamin D Receptors in humans is also substantially lower than D3. One big issue is that doctors are painfully uninformed about Vitamin D, and since all prescription D is D2, 99% of doctors believe that D2 is better than D3.

Greta said...

I have struggled with my D levels. After nearly a year of 5,000-10,000 IUs a day I am still at 42. It was 13 when I started (eeek!). My Naturopath is assuming that the malabsorption was due to gluten issues...I am now gluten free and eating a Hunter/Paleo diet. I am eager for my D retest in 8 weeks to see what a difference it made. Oh, and she suggested that I try a liquid form of D made by Biotics Research called Bio-D Mulsion Forte.

Kidney stones......WATER...DRINK LOTS MORE WATER! A gallon a day. And, study up on the high oxalate foods...and avoid the ones that are super high. Peanuts. Chocolate. Spinach. Etc. Eat the moderate oxalate foods in moderation. Hope that can help! Try to avoid the diuretic that they love to prescribe, too....just drink more water!!

TedHutchinson said...

UK readers may be interested to know that The Vitamin Service are a reputable source for Bio-D Mulsion Forte.
I have no links with this firm.
Some UK readers are reluctant to use USA discount providers and this is currently one of the best UK providers of effective strength D3.

granolamommy said...

I am pregnant with my 4th child and I'm currently taking 5000 IU of D3, and I'm getting 400IU Vit. D in my prenatal vitamin. I'm getting some flack from my OB, as well as from a couple of family members who are Drs. saying that this is too much Vit. D, especially during the 2nd & 3rd trimesters of pregnancy, and that this much could harm my baby. Is this too much? Am I putting my baby at risk? Are their other studies, especially with doses above 4000IU, that I could show them that would support this?

I am also giving my children, ages 9, 7, and almost 4, 2000IU of D3 each day. Are these amounts safe for them, especially the youngest?

I should also note that I have lots of environmental allergies, and asthma, and that my 3 children all have varying degrees of environmental allergies and I suspect one may have mild asthma.

Thank you so much for your help and insight.

Don said...


The Vitamin D council newsletter below cites more than 10 studies showing the need for increased vitamin D in pregnancy:

The amazing thing: You could spend 20 minutes outdoors each day with 80% skin exposure, and you would produce 10,000 units of D3 if you are Caucasian. I doubt your OB or relatives would object to 20 minutes of direct sun exposure daily, which could provide you with almost two times the amount of D3 you currently ingest. If you are like most Americans spending 93% of your time indoors, your ingestion of 5400 IU doesn't even reach the physiological production level with evolutionary sun exposure. So long as your serum level is 50-70 ng/mL, you are safe. Get tested to put your mind at rest, and to show the OB everything is OK.

Meanwhile, I have an idea: Why don't you ask them to produce the studies proving that your use of 5400 IU of vitamin D3 daily presents a harm to your developing child? (I don't know of any, I believe none exist. Read the Breastfeeding Medicine article to which Fred linked, and give a copy to your OB.) Perhaps the OB will learn something.

2000 IU is safe and required for any child weighing 50 pounds or more. As Dr. Cannell states in the newsletter above: "Healthy children need about 1,000 IU per 25 pounds of body weight and their 25(OH)D levels should
be >50 ng/ml, year round." In fact it has proven safe even for chidren under 2 years of age. They can get this from supplements if not from sun exposure, the latter being preferable.

Ashley said...

TTC #3 starting September 2011 #2 is almost 4. Both #1 and 2 were premature. My Dr told me about Vitamin D3 found this site and was amazed. I'm hoping #3 will be right on time!!!