Vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women raises risk of schizophrenia in their children
New studies have now confirmed early findings that vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women can increase risk of mental health problems such as autism and schizophrenia in their children.
Vitamin D is not just for healthy bone. It offers many other important health benefits. Vitamin deficiency has been associated with increased risk for neurodevelopmental disorders, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, microbial infections, and depression among other health problems.
Vitamin D is found only in fortified cereals, juices and milk. Vitamin D is naturally present in cold water fatty fish such as salmon and tuna, eggs, and mushroom.
One study published 2016 in the journal Molecular Psychiatry revealed pregnant women with vitamin D deficiency at 20 weeks of gestation were at higher risk of having a child with autism by the age of six years.
Another study published in 2018 in the journal Scientific Reports discovered a similar association between vitamin D deficiency and schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a mental disorder which causes symptoms including auditory and visual hallucinations, delusions, and other cognitive impairment.
Still another study conducted in Australia and Denmark found newborn babies with low vitamin D levels at a higher risk of developing schizophrenia in their adulthood. In Denmark, about eight percent of all cases of schizophrenia may have something to do with vitamin D deficiency.
These studies suggest pregnant women would be better off getting a lot of sunshine exposure during pregnancy. In the winter or spring or in a high latitude country, pregnant women may want to take some vitamin D supplements.
A study published in 2016 suggests that taking vitamin D supplements but not multivitamins may help overcome gestational vitamin D deficiency effectively.
If you live in a country where sunshine is abundant, get 20 minutes of exposure to sunshine every day. If you have to take vitamin D supplements, taking 1000 to 2000 international units per day of vitamin D is considered very safe. Exposure of bare hands and the face to sunshine at the hottest hours in a day for 15 minutes in the summer can get you as much as 10,000 IU.