Vitamin D Levels During Pregnancy Linked to Muscle Strength in Children

Dr. Morice’s tubal ligation reversal patients continue to conceive and have happy, healthy babies. Scientists also continue to discover new links between vitamin D and health.

Pregnant woman lying on grass

Last year, we posted a blog that discussed the link between Vitamin D exposure during pregnancy and bone growth. This month, a study was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism that links a woman’s vitamin D levels during pregnancy and the muscle strength of the child.

Previous studies have linked vitamin D levels in children to their own muscle strength, but this is the first to link maternal levels during pregnancy to the child.

Researchers studied 678 women in late pregnancy and recorded their vitamin D levels. At the age of 4, their children’s muscle strength was measured using grip strength, muscle mass, and other data. Results showed that the children of mothers with higher levels of vitamin D during pregnancy had increased grip strength compared to those with lower levels.

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a special type of vitamin because we cannot produce it ourselves. Your skin can only manufacture vitamin D when it is exposed to UV rays. It can, however, also be obtained through diet and supplements.

So far, we know that our bodies use vitamin D to help with cell to cell communication and calcium levels in our bones. It also helps aid regulate our immune system, maintain a healthy body weight, and may reduce one’s risk for MS and cancer. And, as this study shows, it may help increase muscle mass in children.

How much sun exposure do I need?

While sunlight exposure is a good thing for producing vitamin D, it can be dangerous if you get too much. The current recommendation is 15 minutes of sunlight exposure on your face, hands and arms 2-3 times per week. Your exposed skin needs to be unprotected, meaning no sunblock, for maximum efficiency.

I can’t get into the sun. What should I do?

If you live in northern latitudes or somewhere where it is consistently cloudy and are unable to get enough sun exposure, vitamin D supplements are available. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, the organization that determines daily recommended intakes of all other vitamins, suggest those under 70 years of age take 600 IU of vitamin D per day. The recommended level is the same for pregnant women. Those over 70 years are recommended to take 800 IU per day.

There are few foods that are naturally rich in vitamin D. These are egg yolks, liver oil, cod oil, and fatty fish. These are not too easy to eat that often. The good news is that there are many vitamin D fortified foods available. These include cereals, milk, breads, and orange juice.

Speak with Dr. Morice about your current vitamin D levels and supplementation. Make an appointment by calling (985) 702-BABY or emailing drmorice@mybabydoc.com.

 

 

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