Vitamin D benefits for pregnancy go far beyond ensuring that babies are born with strong bones. New research confirms that keeping blood levels of D vitamin high can significantly lower risk of illness and infections, while deficiency can lead to serious and even life-threatening problems for both mother and child.
Once believed to be primarily important for its role in maintaining bone health and strength, D vitamin is now recognized as crucial to virtually all aspects of health. Ongoing research on the effect of deficiency during pregnancy is demonstrating that maintaining high blood levels of D vitamin is one of the most important things every pregnant woman can do. Here are three important reasons why:
Keeping vitamin D levels high greatly diminishes risk of complications for both mother and child.
A 2010 study by the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston found that pregnant women who took high doses of D vitamin during their second and third trimesters had less than half as many pregnancy-related complications as those who took lower doses.
The study followed approximately 500 women, who were divided into three groups and given varying dosages of the vitamin. One group was given the current RDA of 400 IU per day, a second group received 2,000 IU per day, and a third group took daily doses of 4,000 IU of vitamin D.
At the end of the study the researchers concluded that the women taking the highest dosages exhibited no adverse symptoms, but in fact had less than half the incidence of complications including gestational diabetes, preterm birth, and infections.
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to early-onset severe preeclampsia, a potentially fatal complication of pregnancy.
The South Carolina study also monitored a group of pregnant women under treatment for early-onset severe preeclampsia, a syndrome that occurs in the first months of pregnancy. Characterized by a sudden increase in blood pressure and a buildup of protein in the urine due to stress on the kidneys, early-onset severe preeclampsia poses substantial risk to both mother and child.
Though the South Carolina study findings stopped short of identifying D vitamin deficiency as a definite causal factor, the research adds confirmation to earlier studies that demonstrated a clear link between low blood levels of the vitamin and the syndrome.
Infants born with low levels of vitamin D are much more at risk for wheezing and other respiratory infections.
A Massachusetts General Hospital study that followed more than 1000 children from birth through the age of 5 found that children with low blood levels of the vitamin were at much greater risk of wheezing and other respiratory problems, and were in fact twice as likely to develop respiratory infections by the age of three months.
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