Harvard University Researchers have found that increased exposure to vitamin D increases the level of umbilical cord and Zebra fish embryos. The study signals the importance of vitamin D in fetal development and in pregnant women. The level of maternal Vitamin D levels should be studied prior to testing umbilical cord blood levels.
Researchers from the University of Harvard have found that exposure to Vitamin D increases the number of stem cells in the umbilical cord of humans as well as in the embryos of Zebra fish. The study by scientists Trista North and colleagues is published in the Journal Cell Reports.
Vitamin D Found to Increase Blood Stem Cells During Development
The study researchers found that Vitamin D was essential during fetal development and that optimum levels of vitamin would ensure that blood-related diseases are prevented at a later stage in life.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D has always been associated with healthy bone development, but scientists have now found out that vitamin D is essential for increasing the number of stem cells in the blood, stressing their importance in health. However, a considerable number of people suffer from Vitamin D deficiency.
Deficiency of Vitamin D has been associated with obesity, cancer, precocious puberty, anemia and lowered platelet counts.
Sources of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is synthesized by the body on exposure to sunlight. Vitamin is present in a number of foods like fish, cheese, egg yolk, mushrooms and beef liver.
Vitamin D supplements.
Though there are multiple sources for vitamin D, there are a number of people who suffer from Vitamin D deficiency because:
There is not enough exposure to the sun's rays as the climate may be very cold like in North America. The individual spends considerable amount of time indoors, limiting exposure to the sun. When the individual is covered completely in sunscreen or in thick clothes that prevent the entry of sun's rays. When the diet is not sufficiently balanced with food rich in vitamin D. Dark skinned people, obese people, pregnant women and children with type 1 diabetes are at a higher risk of being deficient in Vitamin D.
Dr. Trista North said, "There are global issues with insufficiency of vitamin D and we don't really have a full appreciation of how that might alter how some of the normal regulatory programs in our bodies respond. We clearly showed that not getting enough vitamin D can alter how blood stem cells are formed. Vitamin D was having a direct response on the blood stem cells and it changed what those cells did in terms of multiplying and staying alive."
The study by these researchers from Harvard University adds another facet to the need to maintain optimum levels of vitamin D in the body, especially for pregnant women. As Dr North adds, "I think when people start to look at other organ systems and stem cell populations, it will be interesting to know if doctors start to recommend anything to help with vitamin D levels in pregnant mothers. This study was just scratching the surface, and there will be a whole lot more to follow up."
The only limitation to this study is that in the umbilical cord blood samples that were tested, the researchers were unable to determine if the level of Vitamin D was optimum in the mothers. The next goal in the current study should be to test the level of maternal vitamin D levels and then test the level of umbilical cord blood cells, this will enable a cause-effect relationship.
The study brings to the fore the importance of vitamin D in our system and the need to ensure healthy levels. In the quest to prevent sun tan and the need to cover the entire body with clothes, there is a risk of losing out on the much needed vitamin, even in temperate climates where temperatures can be extremely hot.
Tips to Increase levels of Vitamin D in the Body
- Wear short sleeve clothes that expose your arms to the sun and help gain the vitamin.
- While it is not safe to step out in the sun during 11:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m, basking in the first rays of the sun would be an ideal option.
- Take vitamin D supplements.
- Eat foods that are rich in Vitamin D.
Am I deficient in vitamin D?