Sunday, July 08, 2007

Builds stronger bodies 2 ways

If I had it to do over again, which thankfully I do not, I would take two specific supplements during pregnancy along with the old standby prenatal vitamin: vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.

The former improves bone health in a woman's offspring. British researchers studied nearly 200 children for bone mineral content at age 9 years correlated with their mother's vitamin D levels during pregnancy.(1) Those with D-ficient moms (defined as blood levels of 25(OH) vitamin D <11mcg/L) had significantly lower lumbar spine bone density compared with children of D-replete moms (vitamin D >20).

As most women get most of their bone mineralization in place by age 20, D supplementation in pregnancy can improve peak bone-mineral acquisition, perhaps reducing the risk of osteoporotic fractures in later life.

So D covers the bones, and omega-3 fatty acids improve developing brains. We're all fat-heads insofar as 60% of our brain is made up of lipids. Intake of DHA or docosahexaenoic acid during pregnancy, especially during the final trimester, pumps that baby's brain full of DHA which becomes an integral part of the neuronal or brain cell membranes. Rat moms rave about the cognitive and attentional abilities of their DHA-primed offspring.(2) Evidence suggests that such a strategy works well for humans too.

1. Javid MK et al. Lancet. 2006;367: 36-43.
2. Levant B et al. Lipids. 2006 May;41(5):407-14.

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