Vitamin D and Pregnancy: 3 Stories

May 20, 2010

Vitamin D and Pregnancy:  3 Stories 

 Competency:  Vitamin D Reference:  Adit Ginde, University of Colorado, Journal of Obstetrics June 2009 

# 1.   The first story about Vitamin D in pregnancy comes from Colorado where Dr. Ginde reports that 70% of pregnant American women are deficient in Vitamin D.  Low levels of D in pregnant mothers have been associated with higher rates of asthma in their children.  Being low in pregnancy is a problem.  But that’s not the only problem we find. 

#2.  In a study from Australia, reported also this month, mothers who delivered at the end of Australian winter (Oct) had children with a 30% increased risk for multiple sclerosis.  Being born at the end of winter means mom didn’t have sunshine opportunity while the pregnancy was at its peak.  The implications of this are big.  We have known that the lifetime risk for autoimmune disease boils down to several key factors.  Your own genes are part of the picture, but your environment is also a key part.  Early childhood D clearly protects from later life MS, and probably many autoimmune diseases.  This study shows that Vit D exposure in pregnancy also plays a part.  You are having your genes set for life, even while in the womb.  Your mother getting adequate vitamin D while pregnant with you, sets your risk for MS. 

#3. And the last story this month comes from Dr. Hollis presenting in Vancouver his data from South Carolina about Vitamin D in pregnancy.  His research shows that giving mothers 4000 IU a day while pregnant leads to a 50% reduction in the risk of premature delivery.  It also leads to dramatic improvements in risk for early infections in infancy.  Drs. Hollis and Wagner have published earlier work that shows that it actually takes 6400 IU a day to get to a blood level around 50-60 ng in pregnant mothers, which is what humans naturally get to when they have sufficient sunshine.  Pregnant mothers need more because of the needs of the baby. 

 How does this all weave together?  Simple.  Vitamin D  is essentially your stem cell supporting hormone.  With adequate D, your stem cells are able to mature into mature cells and do their function properly.  Babies are nothing but stem cells, so it should be no surprise they need lots of D.  A uterus, rapidly expanding to accommodate a pregnancy is full of stem cells.  With adequate D in pregnancy, you can reduce your risk of C-section some 75%.  We shouldn’t be advocating for super high doses.  

We should be battling the stubborn resistance against the logical notion that a normal blood level of D is what we are seeking.  And normal is what humans do when they have daily, abundant sunshine.  That leads to a blood level of about 55-60 ng.  That’s not toxic.  No one has ever gotten sick with that.  It takes most folks having about 4000-5000 IU of D a day to keep that level up.  But it‘s the blood level we want.  You get a lot of protection if your level is at least 32 ng and above.  But many, many women are 15 and below.  And it is to their and their baby’s peril.  Let’s change that. 

 WWW: What will work for me.  I’m not thinking of doses anymore.  I’m talking blood levels.  And I’m calling D a hormone more and more.  It is a hormone.  It talks to your DNA and sets your course for life.  Let’s wipe out MS, and asthma, and all the other awful autoimmune diseases like insulin-dependent diabetes that have been strongly associated with improved lifetime risks with proper D dosing.

Column written by Dr. John E Whitcomb, MD, Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield, WI (262-784-5300)