News about vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin just keeps getting brighter, especially when it comes to preventing low birth weight and preterm labor in pregnant women.
Research conducted by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and funded by the National Institutes of Health discovered that Puerto Rican and African-American women with low levels of vitamin D were significantly more likely to go into preterm labor and/or deliver babies with a lower birth weight.
The study, published online by the Journal of Epedemiology is the largest study to research the link between vitamin D and preterm birth == it also backs up a 2010 randomized study conducted by the Medical University of South Carolina that found that women who were given 4,000 IUs of vitamin D per day were significantly less likely to deliver prematurely.
In addition to offering protection against preterm birth, adequate levels of vitamin D in pregnant women insures their babies will achieve greater peak bone mass during late adolescence and early adulthood, according to the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. The journal published a study earlier in the month that found lower peak bone mass in children whose mothers had lower levels of vitamin D while pregnant years earlier.
Peak bone mass is achieved during adolescence and is especially important because at the age of 30, bone mass weakens over time.
Other Vitamin D Benefits
Most people know that vitamin D is critical in allowing the body to absorb calcium, which is essential to greater bone density. But more and more, researchers are discovering a myriad of other health benefits attributable vitamin D — here are just a few:
- A group of researchers published a study earlier this month in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry that studied a potential health crisis in Iran. Prior studies have concluded that there’s an association between low vitamin D levels and multiple sclerosis. Because the most efficient way to absorb vitamin D is through sun exposure, Iran’s location close to the equator insured a relatively low incidence of MS among its populace. However, from 1989-2006, MS cases have multiplied in the country 8.3 times; researchers surmise that a cultural shift that requires women to be covered from head to toe in Iran has contributed to the increase.
- A 2009 study conducted by the University of Rochester and published in the journal American Society of Clinical Oncology reported that 70% of breast cancer patients are vitamin D deficient.
- A 2006 study published in the Journal of Clinical Pathology revealed that adequate levels of the vitamin lowers the risk of breast cancer
- Oslo researchers discovered that patients diagnosed with breast cancer in the summer or fall had the best prognoses for recovery
The list goes on. To keep apprised of the very latest vitamin D research, check out www.vitamindcouncil.org.