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Mother's sun exposure good for offsprings' bones

Sunday April 19 2009 (foodconsumer.org) -- Sun exposure during the last trimester of pregnancy may strengthen children's bones, according to a study published in the March 2009 Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

The UK study of 7,000 children aged 10 showed that those whose mothers' last trimester of pregnancy fell during sunny months tended to have larger bones.

Adrian Sayers and Jonathan H. Tobias of the University of Bristol, authors of the study, explained that pregnant women's vitamin D levels have some impact on their children’s bone health. 

Previous studies have already found that deficiency of prenatal serum vitamin D may negatively impact the development of the fetal brain, and could also be a cause of the increased prevalence of autism, according to Dr. John Cannell, a vitamin D expert and founder of the Vitamin D Foundation.

The current finding suggests that pregnant women need to maintain adequate levels of serum vitamin D to prevent the deficiency of the vitamin, which is commonly seen in pregnant women.

Sunshine is the best source for natural vitamin D. Exposure of the face and hands to the sun for 15 to 20 minutes a day is believed to make sufficient amounts of vitamin D for normal human physiology.

Unfortunately, sunshine is unfairly labeled as a risk factor for skin cancer. Researchers have warned that although overexposure to sunlight can increase risk of mostly non-lethal skin cancer, deficiency of vitamin D can lead to the development of up to 17 major fatal malignancies, according to previous studies. 

Dr. Cannell has warned that dietary intake of vitamin D, which is promoted by the mainstream media, is not enough for people to get sufficient vitamin D. He suggested a person needs an intake of 5,000 international units of vitamin D daily although currently Adequate Intake (AI) for vitamin D as recommended by the Institute of Medicine is 200 IU for an adult aged 19 to 50.

(written by David Liu and edited by Keather Kelley)