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The Link to Maternal Vitamin D and Childhood Obesity
Childhood obesity is on the rise and a lot of attention has been directed towards excessive intake during pregnancy. However, new research shows that inadequate nutritional intake may be to blame for excessive body fat during childhood. A recent study found that low vitamin D levels during pregnancy may predispose the baby to gain excess body fat during childhood. Mothers who had low vitamin D levels had leaner children at birth compared to those with higher vitamin D levels. However, by the time the babies reached 6 years old, those children had more body fat.
Researchers believe that there are programmed effects on the fetus that arise from a lack of maternal vitamin D. These effects predispose the child to gain excess body fat later in childhood. Researchers also believe there may be other factors leading to higher fat levels in childhood that are associated with insufficient and excessive nutrition during pregnancy.
Sunshine, a great source of vitamin D, affected vitamin D status in mothers. Mothers who had vitamin D samples taken during summer had 84% had higher concentrations compared to 23% of those who had samples taken during the winter and spring. Another predictor of vitamin D status levels was women who take vitamin D supplements during pregnancy.
Vitamin D is available in many different food sources. Fish (cod, swordfish, salmon, tuna, sardines) is a great source of vitamin D, as well as fortified orange juice, milk, yogurt, and cereals. Other good sources include liver, eggs, and cheese. While these are good food sources, it may be difficult to your Vitamin D status up with diet or sunshine alone. Talk to your doctor about taking a supplement of Vitamin D. Ask for a blood test to check your status and he or she can make a recommendation from there.
For more information on how to eat while you’re pregnant, check out my book, Pregnancy Cooking & Nutrition for Dummies!