Suboptimal vitamin d levels in pregnant women despite supplement use

Wangyang Li, Timothy J. Green, Sheila M. Innis, Susan I. Barr, Susan J. Whiting, Antonia Shand, Peter von Dadelszen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Obtaining adequate vitamin D during pregnancy is important for the health of mother and child. Low circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) concentrations, a measure of vitamin D status, have been reported in pregnant women in several countries; yet, there are few studies of pregnant Canadian women. We measured 25OHD concentrations in a multi-ethnic group of pregnant women living in Vancouver (49°N) and explored the determinants of 25OHD. Methods: 336 pregnant women (16-47 y) between 20 and 35 weeks gestation provided a blood sample and completed questionnaires. Results: Mean 25OHD was 67 (95% CI 64-69) nmol/L. Only 1% of women had a 25OHD concentration indicative of severe deficiency (<25 nmol/L). However, 24% and 65% of women were vitamin D insufficient based on cut-offs of 50 and 75 nmol/L, respectively. In multivariate analysis, mean 25OHD concentrations were 12 nmol/L higher in the summer compared to in winter. Women of European (White) ethnicity had a 9-13 nmol/L higher mean 25OHD concentration than women from other ethnic groups. Almost 80% of women took vitamin D-containing supplements containing ≥400 IU/d. However, 24% and 65% of these women had 25OHD <50 and <75 nmol/L, respectively. Conclusion: Vitamin D insufficiency was not uncommon in this group of pregnant women. Season and ethnicity were determinants of 25OHD but the magnitude of their effect was not large. Most women took vitamin D-containing supplements but this did not provide much protection against insufficiency. Consideration should be given to increasing the amount of vitamin D in prenatal supplements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308-312
Number of pages5
JournalCanadian Journal of Public Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Nutrition and metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Vancouver
  • Vitamin d

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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