British researchers have concluded pregnant women should be advised to take vitamin D, saying that there is a "strong case" to support the vitamin's benefits.
The researchers wrote in the British Journal of Nutrition that vitamin D will benefit pregnant women and reduce the risk of diseases such as infantile hypocalcaemia and rickets.
"[The researchers] said the UK was the only country in 31 that did not officially recommend vitamin D ... the UK was the only one of 31 countries examined which did not recommend that women of reproductive age took a vitamin D supplement."
Maintaining optimal vitamin D levels is easily one of the most important strategies pregnant women need to implement to keep both themselves and their new babies healthy.
Listen to me VERY carefully. If you or anyone you know is pregnant this may be one of the single most important physical strategies you can implement. It is very likely in the future it will be considered malpractice to not have your vitamin D levels measured.
Don't' wait till that happens. We know today that your levels need to be above 50 ng/ml to protect you and your baby from some of the most serious complications of pregnancy such as premature delivery and preeclampsia.
PLEASE make sure that you get your 25 hydroxy D levels regularly checked during your pregnancy.
Unfortunately, public health policy in many countries, including the UK and the U.S., is sorely behind the times when it comes to letting pregnant women know about what the latest vitamin D research is saying.
By the time health policy catches up with the research, pregnant women today will have missed out on the chance to provide their unborn babies with sufficient vitamin D during pregnancy. The good news is that if you're currently pregnant, or know someone who is, you can take advantage of the major benefits of vitamin D now … long before most physicians and health agencies will begin recommending it.
Top Researchers Advise More Vitamin D During Pregnancy
The importance of vitamin D, for adults, the elderly, children and also for pregnant women, is beginning to permeate the mainstream medical community, but it will still likely be some time before most doctors are routinely checking levels and recommending sun exposure and supplementation for those who are low.
In the latest news, researchers from the University College London Institute of Child Health concluded that pregnant women should be advised to take vitamin D, given the ample amounts of evidence showing benefit.
Study author Dr. Elina Hypponen told NutraIngredients:
"The incidence of vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women in Britain is unacceptably high, especially during winter and spring. This is compounded by a lack of exposure to sunlight and the limitations of an average diet to meet the optimal need. In the most severe cases, maternal vitamin D deficiency can be life threatening to a newborn …
We believe that the routine provision of a daily supplement throughout pregnancy would significantly decrease the number of mothers who are clearly vitamin D deficient, reducing related serious risks to their babies."
U.S. researchers Drs. Hollis and Wagner also recently divulged their impressive findings from what is considered the first scientific trial that meets the most stringent criteria for "evidence-based inquiry" into vitamin D and pregnancy.
Their findings were discussed at an international vitamin D research conference in Brugge, Belgium, and included:
- Mothers who took 4,000 IU's (ten times the RDA of 400 IU) of vitamin D during pregnancy had their risk of premature birth reduced by half
- Premature babies born to women taking high doses of vitamin D were reduced by half at both 32 and 37 weeks
- There were also fewer babies who were born "small for dates"
- Women taking high doses of vitamin D had a 25 percent reduction in infections, particularly respiratory infections such as colds and flu, as well as fewer infections of the vagina and the gums
- The "core morbidities of pregnancy" were reduced by 30 percent in the women who took the high-dose vitamin D. (Including diabetes, high blood pressure, and pre-eclampsia -- a potentially deadly increase in blood pressure and fluid accompanied by low platelets)
- Babies getting the highest amounts of vitamin D after birth had fewer colds and less eczema
The findings are so significant that researcher Dr. Bruce Hollis of the Medical University of South Carolina said:
"I'm telling every pregnant mother I see to take 4,000 IUs and every nursing mother to take 6,400 IUs of vitamin D a day.
I think it is medical malpractice for obstetricians not to know what the vitamin D level of their patients is. This study will put them on notice."
You're Probably at Risk of Deficiency, Especially if You Have Dark-Colored Skin
If you're currently pregnant, it is essential that you have your vitamin D levels checked. Your doctor may not routinely screen for this, so you may need to ask specifically for the 25(OH)D, also called 25-hydroxyvitamin D, blood test.
Please do not assume your levels are fine, as Drs. Hollis and Wagner found that over 87 percent of all newborns and over 67 percent of all mothers had vitamin D levels lower than 20 ng/ml, which is a severe deficiency state.
As a result, the researchers recommended that all mothers optimize their vitamin D levels during pregnancy, especially in the winter months, to safeguard their babies' health.
This finding could easily help to explain the disproportionately high numbers of poor outcomes among African American births, as deficiency is extremely common among people with darker skin colors.
African Americans and other dark-skinned people and those living in northern latitudes make significantly less vitamin D than other groups; the darker your skin is, the less likely it is that you will produce adequate vitamin D levels from sun exposure alone.
In fact, pregnant women may need to consume 10 times as much food-based vitamin D than is currently recommended, and a new study by Dr. Hollis and colleagues confirmed the benefits of doing so.
Currently, U.S. guidelines recommend pregnant women consume from 200 IU to 400 IU of vitamin D a day, an amount that is far too low. Most adults will need from 5,000 to 10,000 units every day to reach therapeutic levels unless they are spending one or more hours a day in the sun with most of their skin uncovered.
In the new study, which was presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Vancouver, B.C., women who were at least 12 weeks pregnant took 400, 2,000 or 4,000 IU of vitamin D a day.
Those who took the highest amount -- 4,000 IU a day -- were the least likely to go into labor early, give birth prematurely or develop infections.
Valuable Advice for Every Pregnant Woman
Based on the latest research, many experts now agree you need about 35 IU's of vitamin D per pound of body weight. This recommendation is the same for adults, children, the elderly and pregnant women.
But, remember that vitamin D requirements are highly individual.
Your vitamin D status is dependent on several factors, such as the color of your skin, your location, and how much sunshine you're exposed to on a regular basis. So, although these recommendations may put you closer to the level of what most people likely need, it is virtually impossible to make a blanket recommendation that will cover everyone.
The only accurate way to determine your optimal dose is to get your blood tested. Ideally, you'll want to maintain a vitamin D level of at least 50ng/ml and perhaps as high as 80-90 ng/ml year-round.
For in-depth information about safe sun exposure, dosing and other recommendations to safely and effectively optimize your vitamin D levels, please watch my free one-hour lecture on vitamin D.
From my perspective, with the mountain of scientific evidence we now have on the benefits of optimal vitamin D levels in pregnancy it is reprehensible malpractice to not routinely check a pregnant woman's vitamin D level during the pregnancy.
Of course, it is still not the "standard of care" at this point and no physician will lose his or her license for failing to do this check.
But you don't have to wait for the "standard of care" to catch up to reality. Make sure every pregnant woman you know monitors her vitamin D level during her pregnancy, and don't be shy about asking your physician for the test.
It's your health, and your baby's, at stake here, so take control of your health, and make sure your levels stay in the optimal range.
GrassrootsHealth Looking for Pregnant Women …
To further prove the links between vitamin D levels and healthy babies, GrassrootsHealth is looking for pregnant women, lactating women, and infants to participate in their Grassrootshealth D*action study.
For more information about this study and how you can save 15 percent off your vitamin D testing simply by being a Mercola subscriber, please see this link.
How Vitamin D Performance Testing Can Help Optimize Your Health
Additionally, a robust and growing body of research clearly shows that vitamin D is absolutely critical for good health and disease prevention. Vitamin D affects your DNA through vitamin D receptors (VDRs), which bind to specific locations of the human genome. Scientists have identified nearly 3,000 genes that are influenced by vitamin D levels, and vitamin D receptors have been found throughout the human body.
Is it any wonder then that no matter what disease or condition is investigated, vitamin D appears to play a crucial role? This is why I am so excited about the D*Action Project by GrassrootsHealth. It is showing how you can take action today on known science with a consensus of experts without waiting for institutional lethargy. It has shown how by combining the science of measurement (of vitamin D levels) with the personal choice of taking action and, the value of education about individual measures that one can truly be in charge of their own health.
In order to spread this health movement to more communities, the project needs your involvement. This was an ongoing campaign during the month of February, and will become an annual event.
To participate, simply purchase the D*Action Measurement Kit and follow the registration instructions included. (Please note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the kits go to fund the research project. I do not charge a single dime as a distributor of the test kits.)
As a participant, you agree to test your vitamin D levels twice a year during a five-year study, and share your health status to demonstrate the public health impact of this nutrient. There is a $65 fee every six months for your sponsorship of this research project, which includes a test kit to be used at home, and electronic reports on your ongoing progress. You will get a follow up email every six months reminding you "it's time for your next test and health survey."