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Low vitamin D linked to child development problems

Children whose mothers were deficient in vitamin D during pregnancy may experience development problems during their early years of life, new research has shown. Scientists from the University of Surrey and the University of Bristol examined data from 7,000 mums and children. Their findings revealed that pregnant women who were deficient in vitamin D were more likely to have children with low scores in pre-school development tests such as assessments of their co-ordination, like kicking a ball, balancing and jumping, and their usage of fine muscles, including holding a pencil and building a tower with bricks.

Vitamin D insufficiency in pregnancy was also found to affect a child’s social development at the age of three and a half. The researchers believe that interactions between vitamin D and dopamine in the brain of the foetus may play a crucial role in the development of areas of the brain controlling motor and social development. Vitamin D is derived from sunlight and is also found in oily fish (e.g. salmon, sardines, mackerel and fresh tuna) and in small amounts of red meat, eggs, fortified fat spreads and some breakfast cereals.

Did you know?

It’s common knowledge that consuming too much sugar can lead to a multitude of health problems, but not all sugars are the same. For example, do you know the difference between ‘free’ sugars and ‘total’ sugars?

“Free sugars include those found naturally in fruit juices, honey and syrups plus sugars which are added to food and drink,” explains registered nutritionist Jenny Rosborough, Campaign Manager at Action on Sugar (www.actiononsugar.org).

“Sugars contained naturally within the cell structure of wholefoods, such as fruit, or lactose naturally present in milk and dairy products are not free sugars and therefore are not associated with the same health outcomes as free sugars, which include tooth decay and an increase in energy intake. Government guidelines recommend that adults reduce their consumption of ‘free’ sugars to less than 30g (that’s seven teaspoons) a day.”

Vitamin K2 could provide a boost for athletes

Vitamin K2 could be a useful supplement for competitive runners, cyclists and other athletes to take, new research suggests. A recent study demonstrated that supplementing with vitamin K2 over an eight-week period helped to boost the output of the heart by 12 per cent in aerobically trained males and females.

The study, which was published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, reports that: “Vitamin K1 and K2 are not typically common in a Western diet because they are found in a variety of fermented foods.” Although supplementation with vitamin K2 has previously been shown to improve cardiovascular function in diseased patients, the research team from the University of North Texas believes that this current study is the first to report its potential in active individuals.

Craving chocolate?

Many people find it difficult to resist the sugar hit from eating a bar of chocolate, but there could be another reason for our choc compulsion. “Cravings for specific foods could be an indication of a deficiency in a micro or macro nutrient,” explains Emily Whitehead, a nutritionist with supplement company BetterYou. “In particular, a craving for chocolate could highlight a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is an essential mineral and is required for over 300 enzyme reactions in the body. So, try eating a good quality dark chocolate bar (preferably organic and above 70 per cent cocoa) which is a rich source of magnesium.”

Alternatively, Emily suggests trying a magnesium supplement to see if your cravings subside. As well as building bones, magnesium is vital for proper working of nerves and muscles. It is essential for heart health and helps control blood pressure and blood sugar. Deficiency impacts the body’s ability to function properly, causing symptoms including migraine, irritability, anxiety, extreme fatigue, insomnia, irregular heartbeat and lack of concentration.

92%...

... of those who do physical activity believe it improves their mood, but the problem is that most of us struggle to fit it in. In response to this, ASICS has launched the #IMoveLondon campaign in a bid to inspire Londoners to trade their daily commute by switching their train tickets for trainers.

Find out more at www.asics.com/imovelondon

Tee time

New research suggests that golfers have a significantly reduced risk of developing some of Britain’s biggest diseases, including dementia. The research, carried out at Sheffield Hallam University, has established that regular golfers reduce their risk of dementia and coronary heart disease by 30 per cent. What’s more, dementia prevention accounts for nearly half (49 per cent) of the recorded health benefits of golf.

Battle junk food cravings with... sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep has been found to deter urges for junk food, according to findings published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. The study, conducted by researchers at Michigan State University, also found that getting plenty of shut eye prevented participants from eating bigger portions of unhealthy food, especially after a stressful day of work, when usually after a poor sleep they would have given into their cravings.

Nutritionist Cassandra Barns comments: “It’s common to find it hard to get to sleep because we can’t wind down from a busy day – particularly if work or other activities took us later into the evening. This can keep our mind active and alert, preventing us from feeling tired enough to go to bed. At least an hour before bed, put together a ‘to do’ list. This can prevent you from worrying and thinking about tasks for the next day whilst trying to sleep.”

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