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Vitamin D, DHA, Folic, Iodine benefits during pregnancy – July 2012

Benefits of Docosahexaenoic Acid, Folic Acid, Vitamin D and Iodine on Foetal and Infant Brain Development and Function Following Maternal Supplementation during Pregnancy and Lactation

Nutrients 2012 July; 4(7): 799–840.. doi: 10.3390/nu4070799
Nancy L. Morse
PMCID: PMC3407995

Scientific literature is increasingly reporting on dietary deficiencies in many populations of some nutrients critical for foetal and infant brain development and function.

Purpose: To highlight the potential benefits of maternal supplementation with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and other important complimentary nutrients, including vitamin D, folic acid and iodine during pregnancy and/or breast feeding for foetal and/or infant brain development and/or function.

Methods: English language systematic reviews, meta-analyses, randomised controlled trials, cohort studies, cross-sectional and case-control studies were obtained through searches on MEDLINE and the Cochrane Register of Controlled Trials from January 2000 through to February 2012 and reference lists of retrieved articles. Reports were selected if they included benefits and harms of maternal supplementation of DHA, vitamin D, folic acid or iodine supplementation during pregnancy and/or lactation.

Results: Maternal DHA intake during pregnancy and/or lactation can

  • prolong high risk pregnancies,
  • increase birth weight,
  • (increase) head circumference and
  • (Increase) birth length, and can
  • enhance visual acuity,
  • hand and eye co-ordination,
  • attention,
  • problem solving and
  • information processing.

Vitamin D helps

  • maintain pregnancy and
  • promotes normal skeletal and brain development.

Folic acid is necessary for

  • normal foetal spine, brain and skull development.

Iodine is essential for

  • thyroid hormone production necessary for normal brain and nervous system development during gestation that impacts childhood function.


Conclusion: Maternal supplementation within recommended safe intakes in populations with dietary deficiencies may prevent many brain and central nervous system malfunctions and even enhance brain development and function in their offspring.

Just 800 mg of DHA daily gives many benefits
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Note: Omega-3 = ALA, EPA, and DHA

Table 1. Vitamin D intake recommendations during pregnancy and lactation.

UK—for the elderly, pregnant & lactating women Dietary Reference Values 400 IU/day
UK Department of Health 2007—for pregnant and lactating women 400 IU/day
UK National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence Guideline Review Panel 2007 All women should be informed about the importance for their own and their baby's health of maintaining adequate vitamin D stores during pregnancy and whilst breast feeding and may choose to take 400 IU/day
Canadian Paediatric Society 2000 IU/day throughout pregnancy
Federal Department of Health Canada 200 IU/day for pregnant and breast-feeding women
European Commission 400 IU/day during pregnancy
World Health Organisation 2004 200 IU/day during pregnancy
The Institute of Medicine US 2010 600 IU/day in pregnant and lactating women
US Endocrine Task Force on Vitamin D 2011 1500-2000 IU in pregnant and lactating women with vitamin D deficiency


PDF is attached at the bottom of this page

See also VitaminDWiki

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Attached files

ID Name Comment Uploaded Size Downloads
2676 Vitamin D, DHA, Folic acid etc. supplementation during pregnancy.pdf PDF admin 30 Jun, 2013 16:23 1.36 Mb 553
2675 800mg DHA.jpg admin 30 Jun, 2013 16:23 34.88 Kb 1689
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