By Terry A. Rondberg, DC
For years, chiropractors and other non-medical wellness professionals have advocated taking nutritional supplements to make up for the deficiencies in our modern diets. Vitamin A has always been among the most recommended, since it’s critical to maternal health and child survival.
Recently, researchers at The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have found a link between a newborn’s lung function and the vitamin A supplementation the mother has taken. The results were published in the May 13, 2010, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
“Children of mothers who received vitamin A supplementation before, during and after pregnancy had significantly improved lung function when compared to those whose mothers received beta-carotene supplementation or placebo,” said lead author of the study, William Checkley, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine with a joint appointment in the Bloomberg School’s Department of International Health. “Lung function of offspring in mothers who received maternal vitamin A supplementation improved by about 40 ml versus those whose mothers received a placebo. This represents an approximately 3 percent increase in lung function. Furthermore, the magnitude of effect observed in this study is slightly greater than that associated with preventing exposure to parental smoking in school-age children.”
Vitamin A deficiency isn’t as widespread in the US as it is in some developing countries, where nearly 190 million pre-school age children worldwide don’t get enough vitamin A — the underlying cause of night blindness among children, as well as 650,000 early childhood deaths annually. But since the main sources of natural vitamin A are raw vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, spinach, and cantaloupe, many people in America and Europe are not getting enough A either.
The new study emphasizes the need to eat nutritional, wholesome meals including plenty of vegetables, or to take supplementation as a safeguard. Since medical doctors receive little or no training in nutrition, this is where chiropractors and other wellness professionals can really make a difference. By educating patients and even providing access to nutritional supplements, we can make profound differences in the lives of all the people we serve.