(NaturalHealth365) Why should pregnant women care about their vitamin D level? Because vitamin D is a critical for everything from bone and teeth development to brain health.
Unfortunately, a deficiency in this vitamin is quite common, especially among people living in colder northern climates where sun exposure – the main (natural) way our bodies produce vitamin D – is severely limited.
In fact, according to scientific research, a vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women actually increases the risk of having children with neurodevelopmental disorders like schizophrenia and autism – both of which are on the rise around the world.
Revealing research: Pregnant women deficient in vitamin D are much more likely to have children with brain health issues
Because of the way vitamin D influences calcium signaling within the body, this nutrient has a remarkable impact on brain development in developing fetuses – specifically the differentiation, maturation, and growth of neural cells.
And scientific research strongly reveals why pregnant women MUST take adequate steps to ensure they’re getting enough of this essential vitamin.
A 2016 study published in the peer-reviewed journal Molecular Psychiatry evaluated more than 4,000 blood samples from pregnant women. Data analysis was troubling: pregnant women who were deficient in vitamin D at 20 weeks gestation were significantly more likely to have a child on the autism spectrum by age 6.
And a more recent study published in the journal Scientific Reports found a similar correlation between vitamin D deficiency and schizophrenia – a seriously disabling condition featuring visual and auditory hallucinations, delusions, and other cognitive impairments.
The 2018 study, led by researchers from Denmark and Australia, discovered that newborn babies with low vitamin D levels were at a greater risk for developing schizophrenia later on in life. The authors even hypothesized that 8% of all cases of schizophrenia in Denmark could be predominantly attributed to a deficiency in this vitamin.
These findings are consistent with previous research that has shown a person is more likely to develop schizophrenia if he or she is born in the winter or spring, and/or lives in a high-latitude country – situations in which adequate (direct) sunlight exposure is hard to come by.
How to get more vitamin D (and how much you really need)
The good news is that healthy sun exposure isn’t the only way you can get vitamin D in your system. The authors of the 2016 study on maternal vitamin D point out that “gestational vitamin D deficiency is readily preventable with safe, cheap and accessible supplements.”
The takeaway? Get a healthy exposure to sunlight whenever possible (around 10 – 20 minutes of sunscreen-free exposure is sufficient), eat foods rich in vitamin D – including fatty fish, eggs, and mushrooms – and lastly, take a high quality vitamin D supplement.
These steps are especially important if you’re trying to conceive or already pregnant.
How much do you need daily? According to the esteemed Mayo Clinic, upwards of 1,000 to 2,000 international units (IU) per day is sufficient for most people, but you may need more depending on your health needs, ethnicity and geographic location – so talk to your integrative healthcare provider about all of this.
Besides, we already know that increasing your vitamin D intake can benefit you in many other ways, such as by lowering your risk for osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. So, get a vitamin D test, know where you’re at and take action today. This will all make you and your child feel great.