Role of Vitamin D in Fertility

Role of Vitamin D in Fertility

Vitamin D, which is often dubbed the “sunshine vitamin,” is needed for various bodily functions, including bone health, immune response, and even fertility. In this blog, we’ll explore how vitamin D influences fertility in both men and women and discuss the importance of maintaining adequate vitamin D levels for reproductive health.

What Is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D, specifically cholecalciferol (D3), is the primary form of this essential nutrient, which can be synthesized in the skin upon sunlight exposure, obtained through select foods, and supplemented in nutritional products. In contrast, ergocalciferol (D2) is the form commonly prescribed. Some experts indicate that vitamin D3 is more efficiently metabolized than vitamin D2. 

While adequate sun exposure can meet vitamin D needs, many women, particularly those with limited sun exposure, may experience deficiencies. Moreover, vitamin D-rich foods are scarce, making dietary sufficiency challenging. Factors such as obesity, dark skin pigmentation, and other health conditions can further compromise vitamin D status, increasing the likelihood of deficiency among women attempting conception.

Facts About Vitamin D

  • Research indicates that vitamin D levels are correlated with sperm production and motility in men.
  • You are considered at risk of vitamin D deficiency if your serum 25(OH)D concentration is below 30 nmol/L.
  • Approximately 40% of the U.S. population is considered vitamin D deficient.
  • Many studies have shown a significant association between vitamin D levels and female fertility, as well as healthy pregnancy outcomes.
  • Supplementing with vitamin D has been demonstrated to enhance female fertility and improve pregnancy outcomes.

How Is Vitamin D Linked To Fertility?

The relationship between vitamin D and fertility is complex, with significant implications for both female and male reproductive health.

In women, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to reduced fertility and increased difficulty conceiving naturally. According to a 2017 study,  women with lower vitamin D levels are less likely to achieve a successful pregnancy, even with assisted reproductive technologies (ART) such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). Adequate vitamin D levels are associated with higher rates of positive pregnancy tests, more uncomplicated conception, and increased live birth rates. During pregnancy, a deficiency in vitamin D can lead to complications such as gestational hypertension, preeclampsia, and gestational diabetes. It can also result in preterm birth and small gestational age (SGA) babies.

A recent meta-analysis examined the potential association between vitamin D blood levels and live birth rates in women undergoing fertility treatments. The study revealed a positive correlation, indicating that women with vitamin D levels exceeding 30 ng/mL had a higher likelihood of achieving live births compared to those with lower levels.

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What Is a Normal Vitamin D Level?

Researchers do not universally agree on a “normal” or “standard” vitamin D level, but they do agree on the range between deficiency and sufficiency.

You are considered at risk of vitamin D deficiency if your serum 25(OH)D concentration is less than 30 nmol/L. A 50 nmol/L or more level is typically considered sufficient for most people. The most accurate way to measure your vitamin D levels is by checkiing levels of 25-hydroxy vitamin D  in blood.

Multiple studies conducted across diverse regions in India reveal a concerningly high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency across all age groups. The data indicates a deficiency rate ranging from 62% to 96% among newborns and breastfeeding mothers (aged 0-6 months), 46% to 80% in children between 6 and 60 months old, and a range of 38% to 98% in individuals   aged 5 to 20 years.

Understanding where your levels fall can help you manage your health more effectively.

Check out the chart based on National Institutes of Health guidelines. It illustrates how different levels of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] relate to your health.

nmol/Lng/mLHealth Status
<30<12Associated with vitamin D deficiency
30 – <5012 – <20Considered inadequate for overall health
≥50≥20Considered adequate for overall health
>125>50Linked to potential adverse effects

Role of Vitamin D in Fertility

Vitamin D, including in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments, is pivotal in overall health and fertility. Here are several reasons why maintaining optimal Vitamin D levels is important when undergoing IVF:

Role of Vitamin-D in Fertility

Role in Reproductive Health:

Vitamin D receptors exist in reproductive tissues, including the uterus and ovaries. Vitamin D helps in regulating hormone levels and it also supports healthy reproductive function, essential for successful IVF.

Impact on Egg Quality:

Adequate Vitamin D levels are associated with improved egg quality, vital for successful fertilization and embryo development during IVF. Higher-quality eggs also increase the chances of a successful pregnancy.

Immune System Regulation:

Vitamin D modulates the immune system. Since immune factors can influence the success of IVF treatment, maintaining optimal Vitamin D levels helps support a balanced immune response, improving the likelihood of successful implantation.

Reducing Inflammation:

Vitamin D, with its anti-inflammatory properties, can help reduce inflammation in the reproductive organs. A less inflamed environment is more conducive to implantation and sustaining a healthy pregnancy.

Improving Pregnancy Outcomes:

Research suggests sufficient Vitamin D levels are linked to better pregnancy outcomes, including higher success rates in IVF procedures. This underscores the importance of Vitamin D in the overall IVF process.

Optimizing Overall Health:

Beyond reproductive health, Vitamin D is absolutely necessary for bone health, immune function, and mood regulation. Ensuring optimal health can enhance your body’s ability to undergo IVF treatment and increase the chances of success.

To boost your chances of having a successful IVF, it is highly recommended to have your Vitamin D levels checked by a fertility specialist before starting treatment. If your levels are low, your doctor may suggest supplementation to reach an optimal range. Always consult with your healthcare provider before beginning any new supplements or making big changes in  your diet or lifestyle, especially during fertility IVF treatments.

Also Read: How To Improve Egg Quality After 40

Influence of Vitamin D on Fertility and In Vitro Fertilization

While there are some studies that suggest a link between Vitamin D sufficiency and improved IVF outcomes, including higher live birth rates, others haven’t shown a statistically significant connection. Further research is needed to determine the ideal dosage and timing of Vitamin D supplementation for optimal IVF outcomes. Some studies suggest high doses or the active form (calcitriol) might be more effective, but more evidence is needed.

One piece of advice  is that you talk to your fertility doctor before embarking on your IVF journey. If your levels are low, he or she may recommend supplementation to reach the optimal range. Plus, you can optimize your overall Vitamin D intake through regular, moderate sun exposure and consuming  Vitamin D-rich foods such as fatty fish and fortified products.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Vitamin D Deficiency

As per an article published by Georgia State University, women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) frequently have Vitamin D deficiency.  This deficiency also seems to be linked to insulin resistance, another common symptom of PCOS.  While the reasons behind this connection remain unclear, research suggests a potential link between low Vitamin D and PCOS. With this in mind, it’s best to consult with your doctor to discuss this particular issue if you have PCOS.

Also Read: What Is The Best Age To Have A Baby With PCOS?

Vitamin D Deficiency and Pregnancy

Maintaining sufficient Vitamin D levels is important for fertility and a healthy pregnancy. Research indicates a link between Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy and an increased risk of complications like preterm birth, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and bacterial vaginosis.

Therefore, continuing a Vitamin D supplementation regimen throughout pregnancy can benefit you and your baby. Studies have also shown that a daily intake of vitamin D as prescribed by the doctor is safe and effective in achieving optimal Vitamin D levels for pregnant women and preventing deficiency in newborns.

Experts recommend leaning towards the side of caution and incorporating Vitamin D supplementation throughout fertility treatment and pregnancy. The low cost and minimal risks associated with Vitamin D make it a worthwhile consideration to enhance t the potential benefits for both you and your baby.

Vitamin D and Male Fertility

For men, vitamin D plays an important role in overall health and testosterone production. Research indicates that vitamin D supplementation can boost testosterone levels, which is quite essential for sperm production, libido, and erectile function. A 2017 study found that men with lower vitamin D levels had poorer semen quality, particularly regarding sperm motility, which is critical for fertilization.

Also Read: What Causes Infection In Sperm?

How to Increase Your Vitamin D Levels

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to increase vitamin levels, and some of them are: 

Get some sunshine: Sun exposure is a natural way for your body to synthesize Vitamin D. When your skin is exposed to UVB rays, it triggers the production of Vitamin D from cholesterol. However, several factors can limit sun exposure as a primary source:

  • Seasonal variations: Sunlight availability can be limited during winter, depending on location.
  • Skin pigmentation: Melanin, a pigment in higher concentrations in darker skin tones, reduces the skin’s ability to produce Vitamin D from sunlight.

Eat seafood and fatty fish: Fatty fish like salmon, herring, and canned tuna are some of the best food sources. However, relying solely on dietary sources to achieve recommended daily intake can be challenging.

Eat foods containing vitamin D: egg yolks, mushrooms, and Vitamin D-fortified foods such as cow’s milk, soy milk, and orange juice. 

Supplements: Given the limitations of sun exposure and dietary sources, fertility specialists often recommend Vitamin D supplementation. Supplements are a convenient as well as a reliable way to ensure you meet your Vitamin D needs. Vitamin D can be taken as a standalone supplement or combined with other essential nutrients in a fertility multivitamin.

The National Institutes of Health issued guidelines for vitamin D intake to ensure you get the right amount for your age and life stage. Here’s a breakdown:

AgeMaleFemalePregnancyLactation
0-12 months10 mcg (400 IU)10 mcg (400 IU)
1-13 years15 mcg (600 IU)15 mcg (600 IU)
14-19 years15 mcg (600 IU)15 mcg (600 IU)15 mcg (600 IU)15 mcg (600 IU)
19-50 years15 mcg (600 IU)15 mcg (600 IU)15 mcg (600 IU)15 mcg (600 IU)
51-70 years15 mcg (600 IU)15 mcg (600 IU)
>70 years20 mcg (800 IU)20 mcg (800 IU)

When should I see a fertility specialist?

Generally, for individuals under 35, if you haven’t conceived after a (one) year of regular, unprotected intercourse, it’s advisable to consult a fertility specialist.  For those between 35 and 39 years old, the timeframe shortens to 6 months of unsuccessful conception. If you’re 40 or above, even quicker evaluation and potential treatment might be necessary. Remember, consulting your reproductive endocrinologist before starting any new supplements, including Vitamin D, is crucial to ensure a safe and effective approach to fertility.

The Bottom Line

Vitamin D plays quite a huge role in numerous bodily functions, including fertility. However, achieving optimal Vitamin D levels solely through sun exposure and diet can be challenging. Diverse regions in India reveal a concerningly high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in people of all ages. This concern is particularly relevant for pregnant and lactating women, who may require even higher daily intake to maintain healthy levels.

Fortunately, Vitamin D supplementation offers a safe and effective solution to ensure you meet your daily requirements.

Found this post informative? Read more insightful Blogs at FertilTree. For expert guidance on fertility treatments, visit Dr. Firuza Parikh’s profile and explore the wealth of resources available on FertilTree.

For further inquiries, you can reach out to us at [email protected] or call us at +91-22-66573175.

FAQs on Vitamin-D and It’s Role in Fertility

How does vitamin D help fertility?

Vitamin D may play a role in hormone regulation, egg quality, and immune system function, all potentially impacting fertility.

Does vitamin D increase AMH?

Studies show mixed results. Vitamin D might increase AMH in some but decrease it in women with PCOS. Consult your doctor.

How much vitamin D to improve egg quality?

Optimal levels are debated, but generally achieving sufficient Vitamin D (around 30 nmol/L) is recommended. Consult your doctor for personalized advice.

Is vitamin D also important during pregnancy?

Yes, Vitamin D is crucial for both mom and baby during pregnancy. It may help prevent complications like preterm birth.

Can Vitamin D restore ovulation?

There’s no direct evidence, but ensuring sufficient Vitamin D may contribute to overall hormonal balance, potentially affecting ovulation.

Can I take vitamin D and folic acid together?

Yes, taking Vitamin D and folic acid together is safe and even recommended for preconception care.

Can low vitamin D affect periods?

While less studied, some research suggests a possible link between low Vitamin D and irregular periods. Consult your doctor for evaluation.

Is low vitamin D also linked to PCOS?

Yes, Vitamin D deficiency is more common in women with PCOS. The reasons are under investigation.

Sources:

“How Vitamin D Affects Your Fertility.” Shady Grove Fertility, 17 Nov. 2020, www.shadygrovefertility.com/article/how-vitamin-d-affects-your-fertility/.

‌Fertility, C. N. Y. Vitamin D and Fertility: How Low D Levels Impact Fertility and How to Help. www.cnyfertility.com/vitamin-d-and-fertility/.

‌Várbíró, Szabolcs, et al. “Effects of Vitamin D on Fertility, Pregnancy and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome-A Review.” Nutrients, vol. 14, no. 8, 15 Apr. 2022, p. 1649, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35458211/, https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14081649.

Jones, Taylor. “7 Healthy Foods That Are High in Vitamin D.” Healthline, 19 Dec. 2019, www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-foods-high-in-vitamin-d#fortified-foods.

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