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Vitamin D ADHD
Pregnancy Mar 6, 2020
4 Minutes

Vitamin D in pregnancy and ADHD: the latest…

We know that despite the growing evidence that Vitamin D is crucial for many critical functions in the body, globally many people remain deficient. We are also fast realising that having enough is key for conception, hormonal health, immunity and even brain/central nervous system development. Important stuff! In fact, the latest research is suggesting that by making sure you have enough during particularly early pregnancy (rapid and foundational brain development) you can reduce the risks your child develops ADHD by over 30%. Here’s the deal… 

How on earth can Vitamin D be connected to ADHD?! 

The latest science is increasingly pointing to Vitamin D being A LOT more important than many of us had realised. Including playing an important role in the development of the central nervous system. For much more click here.  

On the other hand, we know that ADHD/ADD is a complex disorder. There are likely many contributing factors ranging from genetic to environment. So, it’s not totally simple and clear cut. Click here to read more on some of the drivers from our resident experts. 

So why do we think Vitamin D could be connected? 

A study recently published by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in Finland followed children over a long period of time and concluded that those women deficient in Vitamin D in early-mid pregnancy had a 34% higher risk of having a child with ADHD. Click here to check the study out for yourself. 

How does it actually work? 

Research has shown that Vitamin D affects brain function through regulation of calcium signalling, neurotrophic and neuroprotective actions, neuronal differentiation, maturation and growth.

Aka: it’s important for developing brains so having enough could be a very positive way to help things along.

In fact in animal studies, it has been demonstrated that Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with a range of persistent neurochemical and behavioural outcomes.

How accurate is this? 

The data was collected between 1998 and 1999 – before the current national recommendation in Finland for 10 micrograms of vitamin D per day during pregnancy. This is the broadly agreed official recommendation. It looked at just over 1,000 children and adjusted for socioeconomic factors and age. The research concluded it was a contributing factor.

So, what to do? 

The hard reality is that with complex disorders like ADHD there is no silver bullet/easy win or guarantee. At this stage we cannot per se ‘prevent it’ from developing. However, we can do things that could help reduce the risks associated with it. Making sure we have enough Vitamin D during pregnancy is clearly a good starting point according to this research. It’s also worth noting that many people (including pregnant women) are deficient given our modern lifestyles.

The earlier the better…. 

This study not only looked at a large population, but it also focused on Vitamin D levels in early pregnancy (on average 10 weeks). The study discusses how critical the early period of pregnancy is for brain development. Ensuring you have sufficient levels could, according to this study, be a meaningful support to what is a complex development.

Other factors to reduce risk of ADHD? 

There has also been growing research on the power of Omega 3/DHA to reduce incidence and symptoms. Click here for more. 

Plus of course lifestyle factors related to screen time and stability of home environment. Click here to read more from our paediatrician Dr Mona Amin and psychotherapist Christophe Sauerwein. 

Bottom line: what’s the real deal with Vitamin D and ADHD? What do we do? 

For us it is all about doing positive, easy, science backed things wherever we can do reduce risks. Making sure you have enough Vitamin D is positive for for many things: including building little brains and strong immune systems. However, everyone is individual and unique. There are many factors that influence how much you have/if you’re deficient including lifestyle, skin pigmentation, BMI and genetics so the best thing to do ALWAYS is to chat to your doctor about getting your own levels checked first. Read here for more on factors affecting your Vitamin D. 

Of course support with a Vitamin D3 supplement is one option. Or, getting 10-15 mins a day in sunlight (arms and face) if possible is of course the other option. Just remember to stay out of the midday sun! All in all though: this is a pretty easy, positive science backed way to give your baby a helping hand.

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This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The information on this website has been developed following years of personal research and from referenced and sourced medical research. Before making any changes we strongly recommend you consult a healthcare professional before you begin.

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