Women who are pregnant or plan to be in the near future should consider seeking a vitamin D test, as a new study has shown that deficiency of the nutrient is linked to many genetic diseases in children.
A team of researchers from Oxford University used genetic sequencing to map the locations in human DNA that are influenced by vitamin D. They found that a majority of the sites are located near genes that are associated with autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Chrohn's disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and certain cancers like chronic leukemia.
"Vitamin D status is potentially one of the most powerful selective pressures on the genome in relatively recent times," said George Ebers, one of the authors of the paper. "Our study appears to support this interpretation and it may be we have not had enough time to make all the adaptations we have needed to cope with our northern circumstances."
The authors recommended higher levels of vitamin D during pregnancy in order to help mothers avoid these problems in their children. They also said that greater public health efforts could be made to help make vitamin D supplements more available.
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