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Vitamin D during pregnancy makes babies stronger: What other vitamins are important?

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Vitamin D important for baby's muscle development, suggests new study

Researchers have now linked higher levels of vitamin D during pregnancy to improved muscle development in babies. Mother's whose vitamin D levels are higher when they are pregnant are more likely to produce healthier, stronger adults that in turn means better health in adulthood.

The study

The UK researchers for the current study note that few women supplement with vitamin D during pregnancy, though it is recommended.

Professor Cyrus Cooper, Professor of Rheumatology and Director of the MRC LEU at the University of Southampton and colleagues measured vitamin D levels among 678 pregnant women for their investigation. The women's babies were tested for muscle mass and grip strength at four years of age.

The results that are published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism showed mothers with higher vitamin D levels during pregnancy had babies with stronger muscles, evidence by greater grip strength, but not muscle mass.

The researchers said the finding adds to evidence that diet and nutrition during pregnancy play an important role in childhood development and disease risk factors later in life. Understanding that good health starts in the womb "...should help us to design interventions aimed at optimising body composition in childhood and later adulthood and thus improve the health of future generations," Dr. Cooper said in a press release.

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If you are pregnant and not taking a vitamin D supplement, speak with your doctor. It may be that boosting levels of the 'sunshine vitamin' can give your baby more muscles and better health that extends into adulthood.

What other vitamins does your baby need?

Vitamin D, in addition to vitamin A and C are also important after your baby is born. The NHS recommends all babies age six months to five years take a vitamin supplement. Vitamin D is synthesized from sunshine, but putting your baby in the sun is not recommended, making supplements important. Vitamin D is difficult to obtain from foods.

The recommended dose is 7-8.5 micrograms of vitamin D unless you are giving your baby a pint or more of infant formula a day that is fortified. Breastfeeding can give your baby enough vitamin D, but only if you supplement during pregnancy. Speak with your child's pediatrician for guidance.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Updated: January 6, 2014