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Vitamin D During Pregnancy Essential for Child Brain Development

Lisa Garber
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September 18th, 2012
Updated 11/01/2012 at 10:13 pm
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pregnantladyoutside 235x147 Vitamin D During Pregnancy Essential for Child Brain Development

Researchers studying almost 2,000 mothers-to-be determined a positive correlation between vitamin D intake during first and second trimesters and the mental and motor abilities of their babies. Children scored higher on the tests if their mothers received adequate levels of vitamin D while pregnant, while a low scores were tied with a vitamin D deficiency. The study was published online in the journal Pediatrics on September 17th. Who thought vitamin D in pregnancy could be so important.

Vitamin D in Pregnancy - Low Vitamin D May Mean Lower IQ

The study, conducted by researchers at the Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona, shows that vitamin D levels during pregnancy “might have an important impact at the population level.”

Medical epidemiologist and lead author Dr. Eva Morales adds that mothers deficient in vitamin D during pregnancy could inadvertently cause their children to have lower IQs. The researchers determined that mothers with deficient levels of vitamin D during pregnancy had children who scored on average 2.6 and 2.3 points lower on mental and psychomotor tests, respectively, than children of women with adequate levels of vitamin D. Dr. Morales and her colleagues took other factors—like birth weight, maternal age, social class, the mother’s drinking or smoking habits, and the mother’s education—into consideration for the study.

How Much is Enough?

Mothers—and the rest of us—often wonder how much of the sunshine vitamin is actually enough. The independent group the Institute of Medicine advises pregnant women get 600 international units (IU) but no more than 4,000 IU daily. Many experts, like the Medical University of South Carolina’s Bruce Hollis, say that 600 IU will support skeletal health but will do next to nothing for preventing other diseases. This means that fair-skinned mothers must spend 10 to 15 minutes without sunscreen in the sun during peak hours in the summer or rely on supplements, since even fatty fish and eggs don’t provide enough vitamin D.

As much a 5,000 or 10,000 IUs is recommended.

Vitamin D Benefits

Having sufficient vitamin D levels has other benefits for pregnant women, including reduced risk of high blood pressure and pregnancy-related diabetes. Adequate levels of vitamin D in pregnant mothers also bolster’s a baby’s immune system and decreases its risk of developing heart disease and respiratory difficulties like asthma.

Mothers-to-be shouldn’t worry about getting too much vitamin D until they get up to 50,000 IU daily – a rather difficult amount to hit. This can result in kidney and nerve damage and cardiovascular difficulties due to calcium spikes in blood levels.

There are also other vitamin D benefits, including:

  • Supporting the body’s immune system against viral infections
  • Supporting weight loss

It’s important to make sure you get enough vitamin D during cloudy months and regions. Be sure to supplement or adjust your diet.

Additional Sources:

HealthDay

The Endocrine Society

From around the web:

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