By Renee Dudley
The Post and Courier
Two separate studies
conducted by researchers at MUSC suggest taking high doses of vitamin D
could help avoid complications in pregnancy and slow the progress of
One study shows that
pregnant women can safely take high levels of vitamin D—about 10 times
the amount currently recommended.
The lead researcher, whose
study was published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, said
taking 4,000 units daily might reduce the risk of pregnancy
images below show the decrease in amyloid plaques in APP transgenic
mice on vitamin D-enriched diet. Reprinted from the Journal of
Alzheimer's Disease, 25, Yu et al., Vitamin D3-Enriched Diet Correlates
with a Decrease of Amyloid Plaques in the Brain of AbetaPP Transgenic
Mice, 295-307, 2011, with permission from IOS Press.
The other study shows that
high doses of vitamin D-3 slowed the progress of dementia in mice and
could curb the progress of Alzheimer's disease in people, according to
results published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.
That study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S.
Department of Veterans Affairs, involved three groups of mice with
genetic mutations that would lead to dementia. They were fed diets
insufficient, sufficient or enriched in vitamin D-3, said lead
investigator Mark Kindy. Co-author of the study was Sebastiano
Gattoni-Celli, M.D, professor, Department of Radiation Oncology.
Drs. Mark Kindy, left, and
The group with
insufficient levels of the vitamin developed disoriented behavior
faster than the other groups, while the mice with an enriched diet had
a later onset of severe symptoms, said Kindy, Ph.D., professor of
neurosciences. It could mean the vitamin helps slow the progress of
Alzheimer's, a progressive and ultimately fatal type of dementia that
leads to memory loss and disorientation, among other symptoms.
The main source of vitamin
D-3 is sunshine absorbed through the skin. People, especially those who
get insufficient sun exposure, should take 4,000-unit daily supplements
of the vitamin, Kindy said. The elderly and others who spend much time
indoors are at risk of having especially low levels, he said.
The researchers have
applied for additional grants to study the vitamin's effects in a
clinical trial of humans.
The six-year pregnancy study, led by Bruce Hollis, Ph.D., of MUSC's
Department of Pediatrics, concluded that pregnant women should take
4,000 units of vitamin D daily to maintain optimal levels of the
vitamin in their bodies.
The amount is 10 times the
current Institute of Medicine recommendations of 400-600 units daily
that doctors generally follow, Hollis said.
The research, funded by a
$10 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, studied 350
pregnant women receiving care at MUSC, Hollis said.
The women were given 400,
2,000 or 4,000 units of vitamin D.
A 1963 study, on which the
current guidelines are based and which was unsupported by evidence,
suggested pregnant women should limit daily vitamin D dosage to 200
units because more than that could harm development of the fetus,
Editor's note: The article ran in the July 5 issue of The Post
and Courier and is reprinted with permission.