Recent research has indicated that vitamin D may play a role in many areas of health. Studies have shown that it benefits heart health, decreases the risk of developing mood disorders and contributes to the health of muscles and joints.
However, a new study from Oxford University researchers has shown that the impact of vitamin D may go deeper than that. They found that the nutrient interacts with DNA influencing the development of many chronic diseases.
A chain of DNA has receptors for vitamin D at the same locations as many of the genes that are associated with birth defects and chronic illnesses. Andreas Heger, who led the investigation, said that it may be particularly important for women who expect to soon become pregnant to maintain high levels of the nutrient.
"Vitamin D supplements during pregnancy and the early years could have a beneficial effect on a child’s health in later life," Heger said. "Some countries such as France have instituted this as a routine public health measure."
The study noted that natural vitamin D produced by the sun is the most desirable option. However, if this is not an option, nutritional supplements may also be beneficial.