Monday, September 28, 2009

Vitamin D

We're staying indoors more and using sunscreen (usually a good idea). What's wrong with that? We're just not getting our daily dose of sunshine, complete with vitamin D. It's truly nature's vitamin and the benefits are enormous. More studies are needed but it appears this nutrient may play a role in later health of the child. In other words, prenatal vitamin D may help prevent a myriad of other diseases.

The Nutrition-wise blog of Mayo Clinic (by Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.,January 2009) suggests:

During pregnancy, the active form of vitamin D increases significantly, particularly in the second and third trimesters. During this time, the baby's bones are developing, as are the brain, the nervous system, and the other organs.

Recently, a review published in the journal "Nutrition Reviews" looked at the research about vitamin D and maternal, fetal, and infant health. Although much more research is required, it appears that vitamin D contributes to improving pregnancy outcomes, such as decreasing the risk of pre-eclampsia, and improving length of gestation, birth weight, and infant bone mineralization. It also appears that sufficient vitamin D in early life may decrease the risk of health problems later in life such as schizophrenia, brain tumors, asthma, multiple sclerosis, and autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes.

These findings don't mean you should run to the local pharmacy for a mega dose of vitamin D. In fact, the article also warns of potential adverse effects of too much vitamin D on the cardiovascular system and allergies. Much is still to be learned and hopefully gained from further research. But here's what I can share as safe advice now:

If you are pregnant:

  • Take a prenatal vitamin. If you can't tolerate that, take a regular multivitamin. Look for one with at least 200 international units of vitamin D (the U.S. recommended daily allowance).
  • The current tolerable upper limit is 2000 IU. The Canadian Pediatric Society actually suggests that this level may be appropriate for winter pregnancies.

If you have infants/children:

  • Infants fed breast milk need a vitamin D supplement, 400 international units daily, according to a 2008 report of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  • Infants fed formula need a vitamin D supplement until they are drinking at least a liter of formula daily. Again, the AAP recommends up to 400 international units to complement the amount in formula. Consult with your child's doctor or dietitian.
  • Older children drinking less than a quart of vitamin D-fortified milk daily need a vitamin D supplement, up to 400 international units daily.
  • Infants and children are at greater risk of toxicity — so be cautious with your dosing and administration.
Don't forget to take those daily walks. They not only provide vitamin D but they give you good exercise which helps many systems of the body and you get a natural seratonin boost that acts as an antidepressant. Once the baby is born the sunshine benefits double and you get your figure back! It's win-win. Best Blogger Tips

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