A recent study entitled the Southampton Women’s survey involving more than 600 mothers and children looked at the effect of levels of vitamin D in late pregnancy on the muscle strength of children by age 4.
The researchers used blood samples from the mother to assess levels of vitamin D in late pregnancy and at age four their child’s hand grip strength was assessed. The researchers did take account of possible other factors which may influence the results such as child gender, height, milk intake, age of mother at delivery and social class among others and still came to the conclusion that higher levels of vitamin D in pregnancy influence muscle development at age 4 and that those with higher vitamin D levels had children with stronger hand grips.
In the UK the Department of Health recommend that those who are pregnant and breastfeeding take a daily supplement which contains 10 micrograms of Vitamin D but the research found that less than 10% of participants were taking the required amount with averages only around the 3.4 micrograms a day.
As the study did not continue beyond age it is not known if the effects found continue long-term and the researchers require their results to be confirmed in an intervention before any recommendations are made but based on the evidence so far it at the very least alerts pregnant women to ensure they are getting enough vitamin D during their pregnancy and beyond if they are breastfeeding.
Getting enough sunlight during summer should give you most of your required Vitamin D but over the winter months this can be more difficult and you may need to ensure you get extra from food sources such as salmon, eggs, fortified milk and mushrooms to name but a few. The recommended daily supplement in addition will ensure you and your baby have enough vitamin D.