February 12, 2018. By CFA.
Vitamin D is produced by your very own body, in the presence of direct exposure to sunlight. Thus, our era of sun protection – combined with a more indoor-based lifestyle – has caused an increase in vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D is a Hormone Precursor That Affects Fertility
Vitamin D is found in human skin cells, the result of direct exposure to the sun’s UVB rays. Vitamin D3, the type most easily assimilated by the human body, is also found in fish, egg yolks and cheese – as well as the skin of other animals. In addition to regulating more than 2000 different cells in your body, vitamin D is also a precursor for certain hormones.
Thus, it’s no surprise the vitamin D deficiency is associated with higher-infertility rates. Since we spend more time indoors than ever before, and are hyper-conscious about sun exposure in general, it appears more and more individuals lack the vitamin D they need to regulate those aforementioned cells that lead to better hormone balance.
A vitamin D deficiency can negatively impact:
- Production and maturation of sperm cells
- Sperm motility
- Egg cell maturation
- Quality of uterine lining
- Sex hormone production in both men and women (leading to low estrogen, progesterone and/or testosterone levels)
It’s also important to note that lifestyle plays a role in vitamin D deficiency. While those
who live in climates with less sunshine or who spend more time indoors are more susceptible to vitamin D deficiency, so too are those who are obese.
Physician-Monitored Vitamin D Supplementation Can Have Beneficial Outcomes
As a result, researchers found that when individuals were deficient in vitamin D (determined via blood tests), adequate supplementation seemed to have a positive impact on:
- Menstrual regulation in women with PCOS
- Individuals with type 2 diabetes
- Sex hormone regulation in both women and men
- IVF outcomes
It’s important to note that vitamin D supplementation should be closely monitored by your physician and/or fertility specialist, based on prior testing indicating you’re deficient. To date, there is no long-term research data available to show whether or not self-supplementing with vitamin D is healthy or not. As with many vitamin and mineral supplements, over-supplementation can be hazardous to your health.
So far, there are indications that over-supplementation of vitamin D can cause an excess of calcium in the system, higher risk of kidney stones (probably the result of the body trying to metabolize excess calcium), and potential thyroid issues – which is never good for fertility since the thyroid governs sex-hormone production.
If potential vitamin deficiency is a concern for you, have legitimate tests done determining which – if any – nutrients are lacking so you and your healthcare provider can create a personalized, results-based approach to nutrition and/or supplementation.
Start With a Healthy Diet (and lifestyle) and Go From There
The best thing you can do is focus on a diet that includes nutrient-rich foods (including vitamin D-happy fish, eggs and cheese), exercise outside as much as you can with reasonable sun protection in place, and minimizing processed foods and known edible vices from your diet.
Would you like to approach your fertility journey from a holistic viewpoint – as well as a medically-proven one? Schedule a consultation with Columbia Fertility Associates.