Recent studies have linked low Vitamin D levels with a host of diseases from obesity to diabetes and this list now includes infertility. Research has shown that nearly 40% of women in their child-bearing years may have low vitamin D levels.
A simple blood test in your doctors office can tell if your vitamin D levels are deficient or not.
The good news is that increasing your vitamin D is as simple as spending some more time outside and taking a daily supplement. The Vitamin D council recommends 5,000 International Units (IUs) daily for adults, while the Endocrine Society and Food and Nutrition Board recommend 600 IUs a day for most adults and children. It is really best to speak to your doctor about the proper dosage for you and your family members.
You may be wondering how scientists found this link between Vitamin D levels and fertility and how it applies to IVF. The link was first found to be present in research done with mice in Japan and Austria. The research found that mice who had low levels of Vitamin D or who were missing the Vitamin D receptor altogether had uteruses that had developed improperly, had immature eggs and if they did get pregnant, had fetuses with growth problems. Vitamin D has also been found to be very important in the functioning of the human placenta, ovaries and uterus.
Following this study, several studies explored the role of Vitamin D levels and the success of IVF treatments. Studies in Turkey, Italy and the United States. These studies found that having sufficient Vitamin D levels seemed to significantly correlate with IVF success in white, non-Hispanic women. Women with healthy Vitamin D levels were nearly twice as likely to achieve IVF success and had higher quality, more mature embryos with a greater likelihood of successful implantation than their Vitamin D deficient counterparts. A study done at Columbia University, in New York City corroborated these findings, but additionally found that Asian women with low levels of Vitamin D were actually more likely to have IVF success than Asian women with sufficient levels of Vitamin D.
Clearly more research needs to be done to attest to the implications for women from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds. However most of the research seems to suggest that getting your Vitamin D levels tested can identify woman whose levels may be affecting their fertility outcomes. The test and supplements are a low-cost investment into an expensive endeavor and may be well worth the increased chances of success.
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