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You are here: Home > Fertility & Trying to Conceive > Fertility Health

Trouble Conceiving? You Might Have a Vitamin D Deficiency

by Katlyn Joy | August 18, 2014 12:00 AM
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An Italian study out of Italy and published in the most recent issue of Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that for women undergoing invitro fertilization, only half will conceive if they are Vitamin D deficient.

For this study, researchers from Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico and the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan, Italy, looked at over 300 women who were referred to a fertility clinic for IVF treatment. Of the women, 154 were vitamin D deficient, while the other 181 were not. To have 30 ng/ml in the blood is considered optimum for health, and the standards for the groups was less than 20 ng/ml to be considered deficient, and over 20 to be in the sufficient level group.

"Our work is the largest study to date to examine how vitamin D affects fertility in women who are undergoing IVF," remarked study author, Alessio Paffoni . "We found that women who had sufficient levels of vitamin D were more likely to produce high-quality embryos and more likely to become pregnant than women who were deficient in vitamin D."

Researchers hypothesize that having sufficient levels of vitamin D boosts high quality egg production from the ovaries, and heightens the chances of successful implantation in the uterus.

While researchers have found in previous studies that fertility in rodents is impaired with the deficiency, human research has been limited.

Vitamin D is a steroid hormone that is produced in the skin after exposure to sunlight. Also eating certain foods can raise vitamin D levels in the blood. Recently, vitamin D has been in the news more for helping more than bone health.

In regards to fertility, other research has found a link with vitamin D. A 2012 study out of Austria and published in the peer-reviewed publication the European Joural of Endocrinology reviewed all data from vitamin D studies and fertility and found the following:

One such study focused on countries where there is a marked difference in seasons and the hours of sunlight. In those areas, conception rates were lowest in darkest months and highest in those with the most sun. Also, in such geographic areas, it was discovered that in the long dark winters, women had lower ovulation rates.

A vitamin D receptor has been identified in the ovaries and placenta of women and in the testicles and sperm of men. Therefore, a link between fertility and vitamin D levels makes sense.

A study found in 300 men, those with higher sperm motility had higher vitamin D concentrations.

There have been a few studies showing a connection between vitamin D deficiency and polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS symptoms and vitamin D deficiency.

A larger study of over 2000 men found a correlation between men's vitamin D levels and reproductive hormone levels.

The conclusion of the researchers' was that vitamin D deficiency and its role in both male and female fertility may be related to hormonal disturbances and further research in the area is warranted.

How to Make Sure You Get Enough Vitamin D

According to the Vitamin D Council, to get adequate vitamin D, you must expose bare skin to sunlight and take supplements.

"You don't need to tan or burn your skin to get vitamin D. You only need to expose your skin for around half the time it takes for your skin to turn pink and begin to burn. How much vitamin D is produced from sunlight depends on the time of day, where you live in the world and the color of your skin. The more skin you expose the more vitamin D is produced."

The Council recommends supplementation if you cannot get enough sun exposure, and to take vitamin D3. The Council recommends adults take 5000 IUs a day, while the Food and Nutrition Board suggests 600 a day.

The Council suggests you work with your physician to determine your ideal dosage for vitamin D supplementation, because so many factors affect your levels and needs, from where you live, the color of your skin, to whether you have certain health conditions. You should also have your levels tested to be certain you are at, not below or above, the appropriate levels.


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