A new study has shown that women who have higher levels of Vitamin D in their body may have an easier time with childbirth than women who have low Vitamin D levels.
Research looking at the relationship between Vitamin D levels and pain during labor was just presented by the American Society of Anesthesiologists at the ANESTHESIOLOGY™ 2014 annual convention. Vitamin D deficiencies are often common among Americans, especially for pregnant women and this study examined how this might affect the amount of pain experienced during labor.
This preliminary study looked at nearly 100 women and recorded the levels of Vitamin D in their blood at the beginning of the pregnancy. Researchers then recorded the amount of pain medications requested and compared these amounts between the women with the highest levels of Vitamin D to those with lower levels. What they found was that the women who had the highest levels of Vitamin D asked for less pain medications than did the women with lower levels.
The study was headed up by an anesthesiologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Dr. Andrew Geller and only looked at the women who received epidurals during their labor. It did not consider the Vitamin D levels of the mothers who chose natural childbirth with alternate pain management tools instead of epidurals.
This is not the first study to look at the importance of Vitamin D for pregnant women. Research has also indicated the importance of high levels of Vitamin D during pregnancy in order to prevent birth defects and enhance the health of the baby and to decrease the odds of complications during pregnancy.
So how much Vitamin D do pregnant women need? A study looking into this led by Bruce Hollis, Ph.D., the director of pediatric nutritional sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, indicates that women in general, and especially pregnant women, should have at least 4,000 I.U.'s of Vitamin D per day. This is ten times the amount found in most prenatal vitamins, most of which offer only 400 I.U.'s, an amount that Dr. Hollis calls "useless."
Low levels of Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin because your body naturally synthesizes Vitamin D when you are in the sun, has also been linked to a variety of other health concerns including breath cancer, heart disease, prostate cancer, depression, and chronic pain. As more and more research is becoming available on Vitamin D, it seems that your grandmother's old advice that "sunshine and fresh air is the cure for everything" just might have been much wiser than we could have ever guessed.