A new study completed by the university of Glasgow has found a link between children that were conceived during the winter and learning difficulties. This connection can potentially be explained by the lack of sunlight in the winter, causing vitamin D deficiency in the mother
Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency doesn’t just occur in the winter however. In fact, a huge proportion of the population are deficient year around. Vitamin D deficiency has become a common problem due to the concerns about skin cancer and the subsequent increase in sun block usage. In order to make enough vitamin D we need around 20 minutes of bare skin exposure to the sun daily, ideally with most of the body being exposed. Obviously in the UK this is not achievable, and it’s especially difficult for those who are very prone to burning or those are indoors all day. Consequently the government recently released recommendations for Brits to take vitamin D supplements during the winter. It would be interesting to see a study that looked at the correlation of sun block usage/ skin cancer campaigns and the increase in the number of children with learning difficulties.
A Nutritional Therapist’s Perspective
I frequently send my clients to get their vitamin D levels checked and it is rare for results to come back in the optimal range. It’s important to note that even if your vitamin D levels were good a few months ago, they’ll be dropping every day that you do not get sun exposure. I believe it is important for everyone to supplement vitamin D as the problems associated with deficiency are many; decreased bone density, depression, lower immunity, increased risk of cancer and now the potential for increased risk of learning difficulties.
I recommend that all women who are planning on having a baby, those who are pregnant and those who are breast-feeding should take extra care to avoid becoming vitamin D deficient. A daily dose of around 2000-3000iu daily is recommended. If you have a deficiency then you may need much higher doses and should consult a GP or BANT registered nutritional therapist.