ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — A study at Seattle Children’s Research Institute highlighted that 46 percent of mothers are deficient in Vitamin D during pregnancy, which can lead to abnormal bone growth, fractures, or rickets in newborns. However, if you’re consuming a healthy amount, it could help your child in other ways in the long run.
Pregnant women, are you getting enough nutrients? If the answer is no, then it’s a no for your baby too! Vitamin D is an essential nutrient passed on to the baby in utero, but a new study shows that higher levels during pregnancy are linked to children having higher IQ scores ages four to six. This also means that if you are deficient, it may impair key parts of development.
Brian Gastman, MD, Surgical Director of the Melanoma & High-Risk Skin Cancer Program at Cleveland Clinic said, “The immune system has to be altered in order to hold onto somebody who’s only half of your own genetics.”
Black pregnant women bear the brunt of it, with 80 percent of them being deficient. While their melanin pigment protects against sun damage, it also blocks ultraviolet rays, and that reduces Vitamin D production in the skin. If you notice any tiredness, severe bone or muscle pain, difficulty climbing stairs, difficulty getting up, or stress fractures in your legs, pelvis, and hips, talk to your doctor.
“Vitamin D is certainly a good thing if a physician recommends it,” said Jeffrey Drebin, MD, PhD, Chair of the Department of Surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Supplements might be their recommendation, with the average dosage being 600 international units. Consuming foods like salmon, sardines, egg yolk, shrimp, fortified milk, orange juice, cereal, and yogurt can boost your levels. But the cheapest way? Sunlight. Five to ten minutes of exposure two to three times per week will keep you and your little one safe, smart, and strong.
Doctors will run a simple blood test for a clear diagnosis. If you have a severe deficiency, they may instead recommend high-dose Vitamin D tablets or liquids for a few weeks. Do consult your doctor because there can be negative effects of too much Vitamin D.
Contributors to this news report include: Addlyn Teague, Producer; and Roque Correa, Editor.
TIPS TO MAKING SMARTER BABIES
BACKGROUND: Vitamin D is a nutrient we eat and a hormone our bodies make. It is a fat-soluble vitamin that is known to help the body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus which are critical for building bone. Vitamin D has been shown to reduce cancer cell growth, help control infections and reduce inflammation. There are few foods that naturally contain vitamin D. The best way to get enough vitamin D is taking a supplement because it is hard to eat enough through food. There are two forms of vitamin D supplements: vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. Both are naturally occurring forms that are produced in the presence of the sun’s UVB rays. However, D2 is produced in plants and fungi and D3 in animals, including humans. The role of vitamin D in disease prevention is a popular area of research, but clear answers about the benefit of taking amounts beyond the recommended dose are not conclusive.
VITAMIN D AND PREGNANCY: Approximately 40-60% of the U.S. population is vitamin D deficient, including pregnant women. One reason for this widespread deficiency is a very short list of foods that contain vitamin D. These foods are egg yolk, salmon and cod liver oil, however, most vitamin D is consumed through fortified foods like milk. Additionally, many factors influence the body’s ability to make and absorb vitamin D. Factors like where you live, the season, how much time you spend outdoors without sunscreen, skin pigmentation, age, obesity, pollution, and having healthy intestines with optimal absorption capacity. These factors come in to play because vitamin D is a hormone and needs sunlight for the body to manufacture it properly. A recent study found women taking 4,000 IU of vitamin D daily had the greatest benefits in preventing preterm labor/births and infections. The study confirmed vitamin D is safe for the mom and baby, and recommend this daily dosage for all pregnant women.
VITAMIN D LINKED TO IQ: A study in the Journal of Nutrition showed that higher vitamin D levels in pregnancy may lead to greater childhood IQ scores. The study also identified significantly lower levels of vitamin D among Black pregnant women. A mother’s vitamin D supply is passed to her baby in utero and helps regulate processes including brain development. “I hope our work brings greater awareness to this problem, shows the long-lasting implications of prenatal vitamin D for the child and their neurocognitive development, and highlights that there are certain groups providers should be paying closer attention to. Wide-spread testing of vitamin D levels is not generally recommended, but I think health care providers should be looking out for those who are at higher risk, including Black women,” said Melissa Melough, the lead author of the study and research scientist in the Department of Child Health, Behavior, and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Additional research is needed to determine the optimal levels of vitamin D in pregnancy, but Melough hopes this study will help develop nutritional recommendations for pregnant Black women and those at high risk.
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