Pregnancy is a beautiful process. For many individuals, having children is one of the most fulfilling goals in life. It’s necessary to understand why pregnancy – a phenomenon that is associated with being a natural part of life – has so much discourse surrounding it.
Recently published literature suggests that vitamin D plays a large role in the process of carrying out a healthy pregnancy. In studies of women who have experienced recurrent pregnancy losses (RPL) such as miscarriage, vitamin D deficiency has been associated with increased risk of abnormalities within the immune system. This observation does not yield any conclusive causational relationships, but it yields interesting implications. It begs the questions – is vitamin D equally important for both pregnant women and non-pregnant women? Are men and women affected equally by a lack of vitamin D?
Source: Peter Dazeley
Miscarriage is a more common outcome of pregnancy than you may think – up to 20 percent of pregnant women lose their child to miscarriage. The relationship between vitamin D and miscarriage may be simpler than once thought. If you think about it, pregnancy is like having an organ transplant with the fetus acting as the foreign invader. Vitamin D intake is also associated with healthy immune function. During the first trimester of pregnancy, vitamin D levels spike to three times the normal level, which is thought to be crucial in preventing the mother from rejecting its fetus.
The specific immunological relationship between mother and child is complex and not fully understood. However, increased vitamin D intake during pregnancy (from 400 IU to 4000 IU, where IU is a unit of measurement for vitamin intake) has been associated with preventing early births and birth-related infections. Different studies have also shown that low serum vitamin D levels are associated with increased risk of cancers, autoimmune and neurological disease, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular disease. As a nutrient that has important roles in healthy bone development, vitamin D is also necessary to induce normal osteogenesis and bone growth in a developing fetus.
It’s no question that vitamin D is important to lead a healthy lifestyle. Having newfound roles in immune, reproductive, and nervous function, the importance of vitamin D may be greater than once believed. It may have useful applications in other physiological pathways, cementing it as one of the most essential nutrients for a healthy lifestyle — not just during pregnancy.
Featured Image Source: Vanessa Porter