Prenatal vitamin D levels were discovered to be inversely related to the IQ of the offspring. Vitamin D is crucial during pregnancy for the growth and development of a baby’s brain, but recent studies have expanded this inquiry to examine the effects of the vitamin on children’s brains as they enter early childhood.

Researchers have found that a child’s IQ remains relatively constant throughout their lifetime and that this can have significant consequences for their health, wealth, and academic performance. In light of this, experts advise checking vitamin D levels throughout pregnancy and taking a supplement if necessary.

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The study also discovered that pregnant women had an unacceptably high proportion of vitamin D insufficiency, with the rate being considerably higher in individuals of color.

Results of the Research

Over a thousand pregnant women’s vitamin D plasma levels were analyzed for the study published in The Journal of Nutrition. The kids were checked up on again when they were 4 or 6 and given an intelligence battery designed specifically for kids.

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The study’s lead author claims that the children of mothers with high vitamin D levels during pregnancy scored higher on intelligence tests as adults. These findings suggest that “prenatal vitamin D level is an essential predictor of a child’s cognitive development.”

Also, those with darker skin tones were more likely to be vitamin D deficient, with nearly half of all participants testing low in this area. Vitamin D deficiency is more common in people of color than those with lighter skin tones. While melanin pigment protects the skin from UV radiation, it also prevents the body from creating vitamin D.

When it comes to vitamin D, how does skin color play a role?

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Sunlight’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays are converted into useable vitamin D by the body through a series of hormonal and chemical events following absorption by the skin. 7-dehydrocholesterol is the first chemical involved in this procedure. This molecule is essential for the production of melanin, which is why it is important for skin color to be maintained.

The skin’s pigment, known as melanin, is responsible for its color. Generally speaking, the darker your skin is, the more melanin your body produces. More melanin means less UVB for vitamin D generation since it can be used by melanin to produce 7-dehydrocholesterol. This explains why persons of color are disproportionately represented among those suffering from vitamin D insufficiency.

Vitamin D and a Child’s Brain Development

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This work adds to the growing body of evidence showing that vitamin D is essential for neurodevelopment and cognitive function, in addition to its more well-known role in bone strength. A registered dietitian discusses why vitamin D is essential for everyone, not just pregnant women. Vitamin D is essential for children and teenagers, as it helps them grow and develop cognitively.

Vitamin D is vital for many aspects of health, both throughout childhood and later in life, and not just because it helps with learning, memory, and motor coordination. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to an increased risk for mental disorders, particularly depression, beyond its role in cognition. Vitamin D controls the immune system by lowering inflammation, which protects against both short- and long-term health problems associated with chronic inflammation.

How Can I Increase My Vitamin D3?

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Although vitamin D-rich foods are scarce, there are still some decent choices. Fatty fish, egg yolks, wild mushrooms (commercially cultivated mushrooms are normally grown in the dark and so contain little if any, vitamin D), and fortified foods (such as some milks, orange juice, and cereals) are all good sources.

If you don’t eat enough of the foods mentioned above, you may want to consider taking a vitamin D supplement. The development of the fetal brain starts early in pregnancy, so it’s smart to take some extra vitamin D along with the rest of your prenatal vitamins.

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However, if your risk of deficiency is severe, you should discuss your supplementation needs with your doctor, who may advise you to take more than the average. Women of color and those who avoid the sun should talk to their doctors about whether or not they need additional vitamin D supplements beyond what is provided in a prenatal vitamin.

Where Do We Go from Here?

To verify consistency in findings and learn more about the relationship between maternal vitamin D levels and children’s neurocognitive development, more study on this topic is necessary.

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With the knowledge we do have, we can only hope that this study will result in greater screening and treatment for vitamin D deficiency, especially among Black women.

You should get your vitamin D levels examined early in pregnancy and supplement as prescribed by your doctor if you have darker skin, cover your skin when outdoors, or live in an area with low sunlight.

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