Moms-to-be who have a higher level of Vitamin D in their bodies during pregnancy are more likely to have kids with stronger muscles, according to new research at the University of Southampton.
The study of nearly 700 moms found that, by the age of four, children’s grip strength and muscle mass were seen to be higher if the mother had higher levels of Vitamin D during pregnancy.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is important because it helps our bodies use calcium to build and maintain strong bones and teeth. Children (and adults) in Ireland have low levels of vitamin D which can lead to weak bones. In severe cases, low levels of vitamin D can cause rickets in children. There has been an increase in the number of cases of rickets in Ireland in recent years.
Vitamin D is known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because our bodies can make vitamin D from the sun. When sunlight hits our skin, the ultra-violet B (UVB) sun rays are used to make vitamin D. Aside from the primary source of sunlight exposure, vitamin D can be found in dairy products, oily fish, oysters, egg yolk, fortified foods such as margarine and some breakfast cereals.
Lack of vitamin D has previously been linked to reduced muscle strength in both adults and children. Women are advised to take a 10 microgram vitamin D supplement daily during pregnancy, while the HSE and Food Safety Authority of Ireland advise that all infants from birth to one year in Ireland should take vitamin D supplement drops.