Researchers at the University of Southampton have found a connection between maternal vitamin D levels and childhood body fat. According to the research study, when maternal vitamin D levels are lower than they should be, it may result in higher body fat stores in children. Vitamin D levels have been the subject of several research studies as of late.

With the huge push toward protecting skin from skin cancer, vitamin D levels are at an all-time low. Sunblock and sunscreen protect skin from UV damage and premature aging, but they also block the chemical reaction that produces vitamin D in the body. Foods and supplements can be used to increase vitamin D, but they are not absorbed well and no supplement supplies the same amount of vitamin D the body naturally produces in just 10 minutes of direct summer sun exposure. The research study was published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Nearly 1,000 women were included in the study. Vitamin D levels during pregnancy were compared to the body fat percentage of offspring during childhood. By six years of age, there was a clear difference between the body fat of children born to mothers with healthy vitamin D levels and mothers with low vitamin D levels.

Obesity is a recent development, in terms of total human evolution, but so is vitamin D deficiency. Research clearly connects vitamin D levels with body fat percentage and now there is a connection between vitamin D levels of the mother and her offspring. Researchers involved with this study believe vitamin D deficiency of the mother may pass along to the infant and eventually impact child health.

The information presented in this report is part of a bigger study attempting to shed light on prenatal factors that impact child health and disease. There are no recommendations included in the report, so pregnant women should talk with their obstetrician or family physician about proper vitamin D intake before, during and after pregnancy. The body is fully capable of producing more than enough vitamin D to protect the child and maternal health.

Source: University of Southampton. June 11, 2012.

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