Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that acts as a secosteroid hormone in our body. Its main job is to keep our bones strong and healthy through mediating calcium homeostasis. There have been some studies and evidence that this vitamin is associated with some health-related issues including infertility.
Whenever we hear Vitamin D, most of us already know that we can get it from the sun and some foods. We can obtain Vitamin D by having a proper diet and enough exposure to ultraviolet sunlight.
To be able for our body to use its full function, it should be in its biologically active form which our body will process. The active form of this vitamin would be Vitamin D3, which has receptors within our body’s systems especially the reproductive system. Not only it is responsible for calcium homeostasis, like other hormones in our body associated with fertility (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, and aldosterone), it also generates biological responses through those receptors, controlling genes within the cell that results in affecting the way cells and tissues carries its function.
Research shows that not having enough Vitamin D may result in issues when trying to conceive, as well as reproductive issues like, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, uterus and fallopian tubes dysfunction, and Endometriosis, which causes infertility to women. Low levels of Vitamin D cause low levels of estrogen and progesterone which are the key hormones when it comes to fertility. In addition, low levels of estrogen and progesterone = depression, anxiety, and irritability, and high levels of estrogen and progesterone = good and high-quality sperm and egg cell. Vitamin D has a positive impact on the endometrium and embryo implantation; therefore in vitro fertilization (IVF) has also been shown to be more effective with higher maternal Vitamin D levels.
Sunlight, on the other hand, is essential in getting Vitamin D. Most people are deficient in this vitamin, especially here in Canada where we have a northern climate with limited exposure to the sun for the majority of the year. We need to spend more time outdoors, avoid keeping our skin covered in sunscreen and clothes. But, despite longer times spending under the sun, we can’t create too much Vitamin D in our body. Toxicity is rare and it occurs by long term supplement ingestion.
Current research shows that for optimal health we require higher amounts of Vitamin D than the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of 800 IU, which is to prevent deficiency symptoms such as rickets. Research suggests the level of Vitamin D is 35 IU per 1 pound of body weight for optimal health. To make sure you’re receiving adequate Vitamin D ask your physician to test your levels.
Tips for adequate Vitamin D:
20-30 minutes of sun exposure every day
Dietary sources from fatty fish (salmon and tuna), egg yolks, and mushrooms.
Supplement with Vitamin D3 (35 IU per 1 pound of body weight)
Ask your physician to test your Vitamin D levels
*If you have questions about supplementing Vitamin D, please do consult your nutritional consultant or health practitioner. *
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Ekwaru, J.P., et. Al. The importance of body weight for the dose response relationship of oral vitamin d supplementation and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin d in healthy volunteers. PLoS One. 2014; 9(11): e111265.
Grundmann, M. & von Versen-Hoynck, F. Vitamin D – roles in women’s reproductive health? Reprod. Biol. Endocrinol. 2011; 9: 146.
Health Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-nutrition/healthy-eating/vitamins-minerals/vitamin-calcium-updated-dietary-reference-intakes-nutrition.html
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The Vitamin D Society. http://www.vitamindsociety.org/press_release.php?id=18
Veugelers, P.J. & Ekwaru, J.P. A statistical error in the estimation of the recommended dietary allowance for vitamin D. Nutrients. 2014; 6(10): 4472-4475.
Vitamin D and Pregnancy. http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/vitamin-d-and-pregnancy/
Vitamin D in Fertility. http://uscfertility.org/fertility-treatments/vitamin-d-fertility/