A clinical review published at the National Institute if Health website (NIH.gov) advises pregnant women to make sure to keep their vitamin D levels high, as doing so will help ensure the birth of a healthy baby while preventing a myriad of illnesses and conditions.
Vitamin D deficiency is perhaps the most prevalent and significant nutritional deficiency among men and women worldwide. Some geographical regions suffer from vitamin D insufficiency more than others, but it's common almost everywhere on earth.
While direct exposure to sunlight is the most effective way to boost vitamin D levels, high-quality vitamin D3 supplements can increase vitamin D levels when sun exposure is not an option due to weather or any other possible other reasons.
It is very important to check the label if buying vitamin D supplements to ensure the bottle contains vitamin D3 instead of D2, as the former is the natural form derived from sunlight and is readily absorptive, whereas vitamin D2 is synthetic and does not absorb nearly as well as D3, if at all.
Vitamin D2, also known as ergocalciferol, is still being used in supplements despite an overwhelming body of evidence that D3, AKA cholecalciferol, is far more bioavailable and carries less risk associated with the accidental or intentional ingestion of excessive amounts.
According to the National Institutes of Health:
The musculoskeletal manifestations of vitamin D deficiency are well known: Rickets and osteomalacia have been linked with the condition for nearly a century now. Myriad metabolic, nonskeletal associations of vitamin D deficiency are now being unraveled as well. Various authors report links between low vitamin D levels and various elements of the metabolic syndrome. Yet others describe the immunomodulatory, anabolic, anti-infective and anti-tumoral potential of vitamin D.
Maternal secondary hyperparathyroidism and osteomalacia, neonatal hypocalcemia and tetany, delayed ossification of the cranial vertex, enlarged size of cranial, fontanelles, and impaired fetal bone ossification has been reported by various authors, and reviewed in detail by others.
The relationship between low vitamin D and adverse maternal outcomes such as pregnancy – induced hypertension, high blood pressure in diabetic pregnancy, gestational diabetes mellitus, recurrent pregnancy loss, preterm delivery, primary Caesarian section, and postpartum depression has been documented in recent years.
Other authors have described the association of maternal vitamin D deficiency with asthma and impaired lung function in offspring.
The review went on to discuss the topic of vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy. One of the points made in the article is that vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy greatly reduces the risk of complications. Some of these include: "primary Cesarian section, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, and comorbidities of pregnancy."
The article concluded that optimal health for both mother and child would be attained if doctors recommended or prescribed more vitamin D than would be prescribed for non-pregnant women. However, many doctors refuse to do this "perhaps because of an unfounded fear of side-effects."
A new study by British scientists which was recently published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine suggests that babies who are breastfed frequently and for a longer duration were more likely to have stronger lungs than babies fed primarily formula and baby food.
The study kept track of 1,500 children ranging in age from 8-14. The longer children were breastfed as babies, the better they performed on lung function tests years down the road.
The study also found that children who were profusely breastfed were less likely to develop asthma (possibly due to the vitamin D present in breast milk - although that is this author's speculation, just to be clear). This is true even for children whose mothers had been diagnosed with asthma, provided the children were breastfed for a minimum of four months. These children also performed better on tests measuring lung capacity, suggesting that breastfed babies were that much less likely to develop asthma.
Breastfeeding has been shown to have a myriad of profound effects on the overall health of babies, including their health as they grow up into children.