Should pregnant women take Vitamin D supplements, and if so, how much?
No other vitamin deficiency is as common during the dark winter months as the sun vitamin. Therefore, supplementing to avoid deficiency during pregnancy makes a lot of sense.
A recent study shows that supplementing Vitamin D reduces the risk of common pregnancy complications, such as high blood sugar and high blood pressure. Despite a very low dose – only 400 IU daily, compared to placebo – there were significantly positive results.
As previous studies have shown the same results (a lower blood sugar, a lower blood pressure, lower insulin levels) from supplementation in non-pregnant people, the results from this study are clearly credible.
What Dose is Appropriate During Pregnancy?
I usually recommend a dosage between 2,000 IU daily (small women) to 5,000 IU (large men) for adults during the dark winter months. For young children 1,000 IU daily may be appropriate.
The above are the doses needed to avoid severe deficiency and where the risk of overdosing hardly exists.
I see no reason for pregnant women to take lower doses than this. The requirement will likely be at least as great during pregnancy. A previous study on 4,000 IU Vitamin D given daily to pregnant women showed, furthermore, that this was completely safe and cut the risk of infections and preterm birth in half.
When my spouse was pregnant she took 4 – 5,000 IU Vitamin D daily. Since birth, my daughter Klara has received 1,000 IU Vitamin D drops daily. She couldn’t be healthier or more perfect (of course). She’s also the least autistic child I know.
Do you have an interesting experience with Vitamin D supplementation?
Parkinson’s disease is a common cause of debilitating complaints in predominantly older people. They experience successively increasing problems with stiffness and tremor. Two celebrities affected by the disease are Muhammed Ali and Michael J. Fox.
The cause is death of neurons in the brain that govern motor control. The treatment is providing dopamine supplements in various ways, which increases the activity in the remaining nerve cells. It’s effective as long as sufficient nerve cells remain (in early stages of the disease), but in the long run it’s less successful.
Now there may be a new addition to the arsenal of treatment. This is another application for Vitamin D, in which many people are deficient.
A new study tested supplementation of 1200 IU daily (as compared with placebo) over a year’s time, to patients with Parkinson’s. Only the control group experienced the typical successive worsening of symptoms, while the Vitamin D group did not.
What is the cause?
The discovery is exciting but it isn’t necessarily Parkinson’s disease in itself that is being stopped. Vitamin D supplementation has been shown before to improve muscle strength in elderly people [1 2], as well as reducing the risk of falling [1 2 3 4]. In younger subjects it may improve athletic performance. All of these effects may be connected to an observed increase in the testosterone levels in the bodies of Vitamin D-deficient people given supplements.
Thus, Vitamin D supplements have been shown to have a positive effect on muscle strength and balance in the elderly. It may be this effect that we see in the study on Parkinson’s disease. Or there may be an additional positive effect.
Either way, it appears wise for elderly people who want to improve their mobility to avoid Vitamin D deficiency. Whether they have Parkinsson’s disease or not.
Do you know someone who could benefit from knowing this?
Do you want to lose weight? Here’s part 12 of 17 in a series of blog posts on the subject. You can read the whole series on the How to Lose Weight page.
12. Supplement vitamins and minerals
Your body needs a certain amount of essential vitamins and minerals to function properly. What happens when you don’t get enough of them? What happens when you eat too little food, or when the food you eat isn’t sufficiently nutritious? Perhaps our bodies catch on and reply by increasing hunger levels. After all – if we eat more, we increase the chances of consuming enough of whatever nutrient we are lacking.
On the other hand, reliable access to vitamins and minerals could perhaps mean decreased hunger levels and decreased cravings, thereby promoting weight loss.
The above is, of course, speculation. But now there are well-performed studies which suggest it might not be far from the truth. Continue Reading →
MS is a dreaded disease that often affects young people and may cause severe lifelong disabilities. For some reason the immune system attacks the nervous system damaging it. There is no cure, only drugs that, at best, may slow disease progression. There is a great need for something else to use in the battle against MS.
Last fall two Swedish scientists warned that people with vitamin D deficiency were more frequently affected by MS. A previous study has also shown that people with MS who were randomized to receive vitamin D supplements became healthier than the control group [1 2]. This isn’t too surprising as vitamin D affects the function of the immune system, and vitamin D deficiency is common.
One more study now shows that vitamin D supplementation may slow or prevent disease progression in cases of suspected MS, that were detected early. In this study vitamin D doses of 50 000 IU weekly were used, i.e. approximately 7 000 IU daily. More about the study:
Even more studies on MS and vitamin D are currently under way, but this already looks very promising. Presently, it makes sense for anyone suffering from MS to supplement with vitamin D. It is safe, so the potential gains (fewer lifelong disabilities) are gigantic in comparison to the cost.
Do you know anyone who should know about this?
PS: How much vitamin D should you take if you have MS? My general recommendation is 2 000 – 5 000 IU daily depending on body weight. The two studies that have shown a positive effect on MS used doses of 3 000 and 7 000 IU daily, respectively. Thus, my recommendation for MS patients is 5 000 IU daily. If you’re taking significantly higher doses than this over a long period of time, you should check your blood levels of vitamin D.
Here’s well-timed news for people suffering from seasonal allergies: A new study, small but well designed, shows improvement with supplementation of vitamin D.
The participants (35 people with seasonal allergic rhinitis) received either vitamin D (4000 IU daily) or placebo for two weeks. Beyond this both groups received the same treatment. The group getting vitamin D experienced less daytime problems with sneezing, nasal congestion and runny noses:
Observe that the study has only been presented at a scientific conference – meaning it’s not published yet. The result thus has to be taken with an extra pinch of salt. And we need another, larger study for proof. But it still sounds promising.
How much time did our ancestors spend in the sun? And does it matter for your health today?
A new study provides an interesting clue. Continue Reading →
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