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Vitamin D needed for both mother and baby

12.04.2012

Feeding children vitamin D-rich foods and supplements after birth may be too late to ensure optimabone health if mom’s intake was inadequate during pregnancy, new data has revealed.

A study with guinea pigs has revealed that sufficient vitamin D for a newborn may not be sufficient to reverse

vitamin D deficiency in the womb.

“This study demonstrates the importance of vitamin D in bone health as well as the implications that a mother’s

nutrient deficiency has a profound effect on her offspring during gestation and infancy” wrote the researchers.

“This study is highly suggestive that efforts to optimize maternal vitamin D status in pregnancy are needed along

with maintenance in infancy rather than relying on postnatal supplementation to restore vitamin D status and bone mass.”

A recent study indicated that many mothers may not be getting enough vitamin D, even

those taking supplements at the recommended doses. Almost all

of the women in the study had blood levels of the vitamin below 80 nmol/l: A level which is widely considered to be

the cut-off for vitamin D sufficiency, showing that current recommendations may be insufficient.

In the US and Canada there are currently no specific recommendations for pregnant women, and adequate intakes

are inline with the general population (5 micrograms per day). On the other side of the Atlantic in the UK, pregnant

women are recommended by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to take supplements with a daily dose of 10

micrograms vitamin D.

The importance of vitamin D during pregnancy for bone development is widely recognised. According to the new

study, the developing fetus accumulates about 30 grams of calcium in the womb.

“Although vitamin D deficiency can be reversed in human infants through supplementation, it is unclear if deficiency

in utero and neonatally continues to manifest as low bone mass and altered bone metabolism despite correction of vitamin D status.

At the start of August, scientists in Europe and the US called for an increase in daily recommendations for Vitamin

D, which they say is crucial to protect against conditions such as childhood rickets, adult osteomalacia, cancer,

autoimmune type-1 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, obesity and muscle weakness.

It is high time that worldwide vitamin D nutritional policy, now at a crossroads, reflects current scientific knowledge

about the vitamin's many benefits and develops a sound vision for the future," said a professor.


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