(Natural News) Pregnant women need to supplement with vitamin D for the sake of their babies, a new study says.
According to a study published in the American Heart Association‘s journal, Hypertension, children born with low levels of vitamin D in their system have an increased risk of developing high and unhealthy blood pressure levels as they age.
As detailed in the journal, the researchers studied 775 children who were born at the Boston Medical Center in Massachusetts and followed them from birth to the age of 18. According to the researchers, 68 percent of these children were African American.
Vitamin D deficiency is more common among African Americans due to a variety of biological and social reasons, such as how darker skin pigmentation is unable to produce as much vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, and how African Americans are less likely to consume vitamin D-rich foods like salmon and eggs.
The researchers measured the vitamin D levels in the blood from the umbilical cords of newborn children. They continued to take blood samples throughout their childhood until they turned 18. Meanwhile, they also measured the blood pressure of children.
According to the study, if the baby was born with low levels of vitamin D they had a 60 percent higher risk of having elevated systolic blood pressure, the first number measured during a blood pressure reading, between the ages of six and eighteen. This can have life-altering effects later in life as well, because higher systolic blood pressure readings increase a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease, even if the child’s diastolic blood pressure, the second number measured during a reading, is at a normal level.
Vitamin D is essential beginning in the womb
High blood pressure was either the primary or contributing cause of death in over 472,000 people in the United States in 2017 alone. The prevalence of high blood pressure, especially in children, is increasing due not just to vitamin D deficiency but also to obesity. This is especially the case among African American populations.
“Currently, there are no recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics to screen all pregnant women and young children for vitamin D levels,” said Guoying Wang, lead author of the study and scientist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Our findings raise the possibility that screening and treatment of vitamin D deficiency with supplementation during pregnancy and early childhood might be an effective approach to reduce high blood pressure later in life.” (Related: 2-in-1: Pregnant women who get enough vitamin D extend nutritional benefits to their babies.)
Wang also added that what more research needs to be done to figure out just how much vitamin D circulating during pregnancy is considered optimal. Further studies also need to be replicated in other large populations with more genetic diversity.
The body needs vitamin D for a multitude of very important reasons. For starters, vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, the mineral needed to keep bones strong. The body makes vitamin D by being exposed to sunlight and by eating certain foods such as eggs and salmon. People who want to fortify the vitamin D levels in their body, especially during seasons with low sunlight like winter, can also turn to supplements.