Canadian researchers at the University of Manitoba presented the results of the first study ever done to evaluate the impact of a mother’s vitamin D status during pregnancy on the dental health of her child. The researchers analyzed the vitamin D status in 206 pregnant women in their second trimester and found that only 21 of them had adequate vitamin D levels. Vitamin D levels were related to prenatal vitamin use and consumption of vitamin D rich foods. The infants born to mothers with low vitamin D levels had an increased risk of tooth enamel defects and early childhood tooth decay.
As a licensed Naturopathic Doctor, I see pregnant women and test them for their vitamin D status. Oftentimes their levels are low and they are placed on a prenatal nutritional program that includes supplementation with Vitamin D3, above and beyond what is in their prenatal vitamin. I also encourage them to spend 10-20 minutes in the sun, with their bellies exposed, per day. Sun exposure can increase vitamin D3 levels in the blood however some women lack the appropriate enzymes necessary to convert sun exposure into adequate vitamin D in their bloodstream.
Food sources of vitamin D can be difficult to find and to consume on a daily basis. Cod liver oil, egg yolk, and foods fortified with vitamin D are the most accessible to women. The flesh of fish such as salmon and tuna are also rich sources but I do not recommend that pregnant or nursing women consume these fish due to their high concentration of heavy metals such as mercury.
This research was presented on July 4th, 2008 at the 86th General Session of the International Association for Dental Research. It was funded by the Manitoba Medical Service Foundation, the Manitoba Institute of Child Health, the Dentistry Canada Fund, the University of Manitoba, and Dairy Farmers of Canada.
To learn more visit the International Association for Dental Research.