Being pregnant is a memorable, most exciting experience full of emotions that most women have gone through. Fetal movement and kicks are exhilarating and reassuring moments during pregnancy. It is not always easy, pregnancy can be a horrible experience considering the challenges that women go through especially for the first three months, during delivery and the postpartum period.
Antenatal depression and postpartum depression is a reality and it is more prevalent among the population with poor dietary intake of vitamin D, lack of direct exposure to sunlight through the use of sunscreens and avoidance of sunlight.
The purpose of this article is to show the relationship that exists between depressive symptoms during pregnancy and a low level of vitamin D in the body. Vitamin D is an essential and fat-soluble nutrient necessary for the healthy development of bones, helps in calcium absorption, development of strong body immunity, the transmission of electrical impulse in the body and hypothetically, vitamin D acts as a neuro-active hormone.
"Several studies have shown that vitamin D receptors are broadly distributed through out the human brain and its deficiency alters neurotransmitters that are known to be involved in the depressive symptoms. Most recently, it has been postulated that vitamin D modulates level of neuronal calcium ions that are responsible for onset of depressive symptoms." (NCBI, 2018)Vitamin D deficiency and antenatal depression have been associated with diverse health outcomes including but not limited to a neurobehavioral disorder like autism, downregulation of neurotrophic factors which may lead to psychosis, low birth weight, pre-eclampsia and small-for-gestational-age births. The complexity of this matter has yielded inconsistent study results with some of them delinking association of vitamin D deficiency with both antenatal and postpartum depression. There is compelling evidence linking this association. A systematic review of existing literature published at NCBI that involved review of 14 studies showed that 5 out of 9 of those studies showed a significant relationship between hypovitaminosis D and postpartum depression and 4 out of 7 of the studies showed significant relationship between hypovitaminosis D and antenatal depression.
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