Project description (completed research project)
Vitamin D is a nutrient that plays an important role in bone formation. Deficiencies can lead to cardiovascular diseases and some forms of cancer. Vitamin D deficiency is particularly dangerous during pregnancy. This project examines the influences of skin pigmentation and genetic predisposition on the levels of vitamin D in the blood of pregnant women and their babies.
Little is known about the supply of vitamin D for pregnant women in Switzerland. There is also no research into whether the recommendation to pregnant women to take in additional vitamin D is followed, and what role is played by genetic predisposition in the metabolism of vitamin D. To respond to these questions, the project will investigate the impact of a variety of factors on the levels of vitamin D in the blood of pregnant women and their babies. It will first study the extent to which skin pigmentation affects vitamin D blood levels. This will be done by comparing the supply of vitamin D in fair and dark-skinned women and their babies. Second, the project will analyse which genes contribute to the metabolism of vitamin D and how they affect the level of active vitamin D in the blood. The study will also consider which epigenetic mechanisms are important for the activity of these genes and the extent to which these differ among women and babies of different skin pigmentations.
This study is the first to investigate the vitamin D status of pregnant women and their babies in Switzerland. The findings will test the practical relevance of current recommendations from the Federal Commission for Nutrition (FCN) to improve the vitamin D status of pregnant women. They will also answer the question of whether a vitamin D deficiency is particularly dangerous for women with dark skin.
Evaluation of Vitamin D Status and Its Determinants in Switzerland