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Pregnant women and newborns suffer from lack of vitamin D

October 11, 2011

According to a new German study, pregnant women and newborns need substantially more vitamin D than they are getting. Nutritional scientists are calling for higher vitamin D intake recommendations.

The study examined the concentration of vitamin D in blood samples from 84 pregnant women at the time of delivery and in the umbilical cord blood of their infants (1). The results of the study showed that 90 percent of the women and 88 percent of the babies were deficient in vitamin D. Only two of the women and three of the newborns examined had vitamin D concentrations that, with more than 50 nanomol per liter, were above the latest recommendations of the American Institute of Medicine from 2011.

The researchers commented that the study was the first in Germany to check the actual vitamin D status of this section of the population on the basis of blood tests. They concluded from the results that pregnant women, as well as many other population groups, urgently need a substantially higher intake of vitamin D to avoid health consequences such as bone formation disorders. Intake of vitamin D could be increased through dietary supplements, fortified foods or pharmaceuticals. First, however, the authorities are being called upon to raise intake recommendations.

Currently, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung (German Nutrition Society, DGE) recommends an intake of 5 micrograms (µg) of vitamin D (200 IU) per day for adults, including pregnant and lactating women. In Canada, for example, the recommended daily intake of vitamin D is ten times as high. Data from the 2008 Nationale Verzehrsstudie II (National Survey of Food Consumption II) show that the German population consumes too little vitamin D: 82 percent of all men and 91 percent of women do not consume the recommended daily intake of 5 µg vitamin D. However, these data are based on intake data, not on determination of status by measuring the concentration of vitamin D in the bloodstream.

References

  1. Kunz C. and Gilbert P. Mangelware Vitamin D [German: Vitamin D, a scarce commodity]. Press Release from the Justus Liebig University Gießen. October 2011.