Eating vitamin D-rich foods while you’re pregnant could lower your baby’s’ risk of having multiple sclerosis and autism, a new study suggests.
According to the study published in Neurology, babies with the least amount of vitamin D in their systems were twice as likely to develop MS compared to babies with the highest levels of vitamin D.
In general, vitamin D refers to a class of secosteroids that aid the digestive system in properly absorbing phosphates, calcium, zinc, magnesium, and iron.
Especially in the colder winter months when the days are shorter and natural sunlight exposure is limited, pregnant women should consider added as much as 4000 IU/d of the vitamin to their diets.
However, benefits may not be limited to the deterrence of MS and autism.
Dr. Reinhold Vieth, a retired professor and advisor to the Canadian Vitamin D Society says that adequate levels of vitamin D in the bloodstream during pregnancy may also lower the risk of a premature birth.
“Getting vitamin D levels of pregnant women that are ‘natural for human beings’ will have a beneficial effect on infant health that will last a lifetime,” he said.
While vitamin D can be obtained from supplements, there are also foods that contain a natural supply. While most fish high in the supplement are not recommended for pregnant women due to mercury levels, there are alternatives.
Eggs (41 IU per egg)
It is recommended that pregnant women steer clear of uncooked eggs to avoid salmonella contamination. Luckily, hard boiled eggs are rich in vitamin D and also add a healthy amount of protein, iron, zinc, copper and vitamin D to the diet.
Shiitake Mushrooms (40 IU per cup)
Mushrooms are a great addition to a pregnancy diet. They can be prepared in a variety of different meals and contain a plethora of important nutrients including iron, protein, vitamin B, fiber and antioxidants. It is important to note however, that mushrooms must be thoroughly cooked if they are to be consumed during pregnancy.
Fortified Cereals (50-100 IU per cup)
Sometimes it seems like cereals were made just for pregnant women. Fortified, whole grain cereals are a great way for pregnant women to increase their vitamin D intakes while simultaneously providing high levels of folic acid and fiber. Be sure to read the label to ensure that your chosen cereal is in fact fortified, and doesn’t contain high levels of sugar. At Naturally Savvy, we like Nature’s Path certified organic and GMO-free cereal.