Vitamin D and Fertility: how does it impact female and male reproductive function, connection with PCOS, miscarriages, and IVF results
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that primarily aids in calcium absorption and bone health. It is commonly known as the "sunshine vitamin" because your skin can also produce it when exposed to sunlight. Beyond its role in bone health, research has unveiled a multitude of other functions and potential health benefits, including a link to fertility.
Several studies have suggested that vitamin D may play a significant role in fertility. Here are some key aspects of this relationship:
PCOS is a common cause of female infertility. Multiple studies have shown a link between vitamin D deficiency and PCOS. For women with PCOS and vitamin D deficiency, vitamin D supplementation may help normalize vitamin D levels and improve insulin sensitivity, glucose level, and hormonal functionality.
The research also found an association between vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency and miscarriage. The most recent review of scientific publications on that topic found that women with vitamin D deficiency have an increased risk of miscarriage. The authors haven't found sufficient evidence to show that vitamin D supplementation can decrease the risk of pregnancy loss.
While there is no consensus on the effect of vitamin D on IVF outcomes, multiple studies show the benefits of normal levels of Vitamin D on IVF results. In this study of 132 women, those who met vitamin D everyday requirement (10 mg/day) and with sufficient levels of 25(OH)D ( vitamin D consumed from food) of over 50 nmol/L had much higher clinical pregnancy rate (64.3%) compared to those who had vitamin D deficiency.
Another meta-analysis showed that infertile women with vitamin D deficiency had significantly higher clinical pregnancy rates when receiving vitamin D supplementation.
Vitamin D receptors were found in male reproductive tissues, suggesting its effect on spermatogenesis. The scientific evidence, though, is not conclusive of whether vitamin D deficiency has any effect on sperm parameters, count, and morphology.
Given the potential benefits of vitamin D for fertility, it's essential to ensure that you maintain optimal levels of this vital nutrient. Here are some strategies to consider:
Sunlight Exposure: The most natural way to boost your vitamin D levels is through sunlight exposure. Spending some time outdoors during daylight hours can help your skin synthesize vitamin D. However, be mindful of sun safety and avoid excessive exposure to harmful UV radiation.
Dietary Sources: Incorporate vitamin D-rich foods into your diet, such as fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, and tuna), fortified dairy products, and egg yolks. Supplements are also an option, but it's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate dosage. Book a consultation with a nutritionist.
Regular Testing: To assess your vitamin D status, consider getting a blood test (25(OH)D). This will help you determine whether you have a deficiency or if your levels are within the optimal range.
While vitamin D is not a magic solution to fertility challenges, its role in reproductive health is undeniable. Maintaining adequate vitamin D levels may support regular menstrual cycles, healthy ovulation, and a reduced risk of conditions like PCOS and improve your IVF results.
If you're trying to conceive or experience fertility challenges, it is important to consult with a fertility specialist. Book a consultation with a fertility doctor.