Vitamin D and Its Role in Fertility
Vitamin D is essential for fertility and has received much attention over the 5-10 years mainly due to its involvement in bone health and immunity. However, although the studies are there to prove it, not much attention is given to this hormone-like vitamin’s ability to influence male and female fertility.
Given what we know today, testing your vitamin D levels, should routinely be part of your standard preconception health care. As should screening for: immunity to rubella, thyroid health, iron stores, a Pap smear.
If you have irregular cycles, hormone testing should be carried out to try to find underlying causes or conditions, such as PCOS.
There are other useful tests such as: chlamydia, ureaplasma, Staph and B strep infections. All of which can result in infertility or recurrent miscarriage.
Vitamin D plays an important role in both male and female reproductive function. Vitamin D is also important for a healthy pregnancy and baby. Below is a list of 31 ways vitamin D can improve your fertility and pregnancy outcome:
12 Ways Vitamin D Can Improve Fertility in Women
- Help regulate menstrual the cycle
- Can help restore ovulation in women with anovulatory infertility
- Normalises irregular menstrual cycles
- Stimulates progesterone production in the ovaries
- Stimulates production of oestrogen in the ovaries
- Deficiency predisposes to PCOS and Endometriosis
- Plays a vital role in endometrial development and implantation of the fertilised egg
- Deficiency can result in lower quality embryos
- Can influence IVF outcomes and pregnancy rates
- Makes ovaries more sensitive to Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
- Has a direct effect on Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) production, and thereby may help maintain ovarian reserve
- Vitamin D is inversely related to FSH
10 Ways Vitamin D Can Improve Fertility in Men
- Regulates the Sertoli cells, which nourish sperm cells are critical for healthy sperm and antioxidant capacity
- Enhances calcium transport in the testes, which is needed for sperm production and motility
- Needed for optimum testosterone production in the Leydig cells
- May improve testosterone levels if low
- Positively associated with semen quality and male hormone health
- Important for optimum sperm count
- Has been linked to sperm being able to survive longer
- Improves fertilizing ability of the sperm
- Needed during the final stage of sperm maturation (capacitation), which is required to enable sperm to fertilize an egg
- Scientists found evidence for a "favourable effect of vitamin D supplementation on semen quality, testosterone concentrations, and fertility outcomes"
Studies have reported that most people, especially men, run low in vitamin D. The leading factors include aging, limited sun exposure, and/or certain cholesterol drugs.
9 Ways Vitamin D Can Affect Pregnancy Outcomes
- Regulates HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin – HCG is the pregnancy hormone measured in urine with a pregnancy test)
- May enhance immune function of the placenta and protect from infection
- Increases steroid (sex hormone) production in the placenta
- Low vitamin D is linked to miscarriage
- Low vitamin D increases the likelihood of develop preeclampsia five-fold
- Low vitamin D increases likelihood of developing gestational diabetes by up to 50 percent
- Low vitamin D increases likelihood of developing pregnancy-related high blood pressure by up to 50 percent
- Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy can cause growth retardation and skeletal deformities
- It may also have an impact on birth weight
Are You Vitamin D Deficient?
It is estimated that up to 50% of the Australian adult population have insufficient vitamin D levels, especially during the winter months.
Vitamin D is a hormone-like vitamin that can be synthesized by the skin when we are exposed to sunlight – without sunscreen – that is!
The problem is, that we don’t seem to be spending enough time in the sun to produce adequate levels of vitamin D.
For your body to start producing vitamin D, you will need to spend enough time in the sun for your skin to turn slightly pink, without starting to burn.
This is easiest to achieve in the midday sun, and for most people this requires around 10-15 mins. The darker your skin colour, the longer time you will need.
Dietary Sources of vitamin D
You can obtain vitamin from foods such as: fatty fish, wild salmon, sardines, tuna (usually also contains mercury), cod liver oil. Small amounts of vitamin D are found in egg yolk, beef liver and cheese.
Portobello and other mushrooms contain vitamin D2, especially if they have been exposed to ultraviolet light.
If you are taking a vitamin D supplement, take it with a meal as this increases its absorption by 50%, according to a study from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation Bone Clinic.
Vitamin D deficiency is generally easily rectified. Higher doses can be given for short periods of time to quickly bring levels into healthy range.
If you are looking for ways to optimise your and your partner’s health and fertility, make sure your vitamin D levels are above 75 nmol/L.