Pregnant women who have high levels of the “sunshine” vitamin are more likely to have stronger babies, according to a new study.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Southampton in the U.K., found that expecting mothers with high levels of vitamin D give birth to babies with good grip strength measurements. The grip strength is used to assess the hand function of a child.
Low levels of vitamin D are often found to be associated with poor muscle function in adults and children. In the study, researchers wanted to know whether vitamin levels during pregnancy affected a child’s muscle strength.
Researchers first measured vitamin D levels in 678 mothers in the later stages of pregnancy. All the women were part of the Southampton Women’s Survey. Children’s grip strength was measured when they were about 4 years old.
Study results showed that higher vitamin D levels during pregnancy co-related with higher grip strength in children.
“These associations between maternal vitamin D and offspring muscle strength may well have consequences for later health; muscle strength peaks in young adulthood before declining in older age and low grip strength in adulthood has been associated with poor health outcomes including diabetes, falls and fractures,” said Dr Nicholas Harvey, Senior Lecturer at the University of Southampton.
“It is likely that the greater muscle strength observed at 4 years of age in children born to mothers with higher vitamin D levels will track into adulthood, and so potentially help to reduce the burden of illness associated with loss of muscle mass in old age,” Harvey added, according to a news release.
The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
A related study has shown that pregnant women who don’t get enough vitamin D are more likely to give birth to obese children. Babies who don’t get enough vitamin D may develop rickets, a disease that affects development of bones.
Also, vitamin D keeps mood swings away and prevents weight gain in women who have hit menopause.
According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, pregnant and lactating mothers require about 600 IU or 15 mcg of vitamin D.
Read more: Natural World News