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Vitamin D during pregnancy strengthens offspring’s’ teeth

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Vitamin D is a vitamin essential for health and has numerous benefits. According to a new study, prenatal Vitamin D not only benefits maternal health but also strengthens the teeth of the developing child. The findings were published online on April 21 in the journal Pediatrics by researchers at the University of Manitoba (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) and the University of Rochester (Rochester, New York).

The study authors note that pregnant women who have inadequate Vitamin D levels can affect the calcification of their child’s teeth; thus, increasing the risk of a condition known as enamel hypoplasia (poor quality enamel) and early childhood dental caries (tooth decay). Therefore, they conducted a study to assess the relationship between prenatal serum Vitamin D levels and dental caries among offspring during the first year of life.

The investigators recruited pregnant women from an economically disadvantaged urban area. The study group comprised 207 women (average age: 19 ± 5 years). The women completed a prenatal questionnaire and had a blood sample drawn for Vitamin D their Vitamin D level. At one year of age, the children underwent a dental examination; also, at that time, the mother or caregiver filled out a questionnaire. The examiner was unaware whether the mother had received Vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy.

Overall, the average serum Vitamin D level was 48 ± 24 nmol/L; 33% of the women had deficient levels. Enamel hypoplasia was present in 22% of the infants; 23% had cavitated early childhood dental caries, and 36% had early childhood dental caries when white spot lesions were included in the assessment. The mothers of children with dental caries had significantly lower Vitamin D levels than those whose children were did not have dental caries (41 ± 20. Vs. 52 ± 27 nmol/L). Statistical analysis for the amount of untreated dental caries revealed an inverse relationship with maternal Vitamin D levels. Further analysis found that enamel hypoplasia, infant age, and lower prenatal Vitamin D levels were significantly related to early childhood dental caries.

The investigators concluded that their study found that maternal prenatal serum Vitamin D levels may have an influence on the primary dentition and the development of early childhood dental caries.

Take home message:

This study found that prenatal Vitamin D improves the development of enamel in the developing fetus. It also helps prevent abnormalities of the spinal cord and brain, known as neural tube defects, and enhances brain development. After birth, the vitamin helps build strong in the child. Vitamin D promotes bone density in adult women both during and after pregnancy. It also may aid in the prevention of high blood pressure during pregnancy. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) during pregnancy is 1,000 mg daily. Do not exceed 2,500 mg.

Vitamin D supplements are readily available. Many dairy products are high in Vitamin D:

  • Yogurt, plain, low-fat, 1 cup: 415 mg
  • Yogurt, low-fat fruit flavored, 1 cup: 345 mg
  • Milk, plain or flavored, 1 cup: approximately 300 mg
  • Orange juice, calcium-added, 1 cup: 300 mg
  • Cheddar cheese, 1 oz: 204 mg
  • Tofu, firm, prepared with calcium sulfate and magnesium chloride, 1/4 block: 163 mg
  • Cottage cheese, 2% milk fat, 1 cup: 156 mg

The best food sources of Vitamin D are:

  • Egg, 1 cooked: 272 mg
  • Pork tenderloin, 3 oz cooked: 103 mg
  • Atlantic cod, 3 oz cooked: 84 mg
  • Ground beef, 3 oz cooked: 83 mg
  • Salmon, 3 oz cooked: 65 mg
  • Chicken, 3 oz cooked: 65 mg
  • Broccoli or cauliflower, 1 1/4 cup cooked: 40 mg