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Vitamin D Connected To IVF Success

Sunshine As Source of Vitamin D

by Julie Monacelli, November 14, 2013

Vitamin D levels appear to be connected with pregnancy success rates in donor-conceived in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles according to a study released by the Center for Reproductive Health at Columbia University in New York. A diverse cross section of ninety-nine women were included in the study, which comprised of 53% Caucasian, 20% Asian, 16% Hispanic, and 7% African American subjects. Those with the deficient levels of Vitamin D were found to have only a 37% incidence of clinical pregnancy, while those with adequate levels were able to achieve pregnancy 78% of the time. The study was published in the November 2013 issue of Fertility and Sterility.

According to Briana Rudick, MD, "Our study suggests that the optimal vitamin D level for recipients of egg donation is 30 ng/dl. It remains unknown whether repleting ones vitamin d level actually increases pregnancy rates. But our study suggests, as other investigators have demonstrated, that the role of vitamin D in reproduction may play out through the endometrium." Previous studies on Vitamin D could not establish if the effects of the vitamin were in the endometrium or in the embryo itself. However, this study measured the IVF outcome of recipients of donor eggs which eliminated the variability of potential poor embryo quality. Donor levels of the vitamin were not measured for this study.

Data collected supports the evidence that Vitamin D may play a more important role in IVF pregnancies, not just donor egg recipients. All infertility patients seem to have a higher rate of deficiency, supporting the idea that supplementation may naturally increase fertility. Live-birth rates were 31% among deficient recipients, and 59% among those with an adequate level. Rudick also stated "We did the same study in routine IVF patients and found the same association but only in Caucasians. In Asians, the reverse was true (lower pregnancy rates with higher vitamin d levels). We don't know why we see something different in different races."

Vitamin D3 can be synthesized within the body from exposure to sunlight. 10,000-20,000 units can be produced with just 30 minutes of full body exposure to the sun. Unfortunately, for women above the 37th degree latitude, women cannot adequately synthesize Vitamin D between the months of October to April. During the natural process involving sunshine exposure, the body has a negative feedback loop that prevents toxicity. Dietary supplementation can be found naturally in fatty fish such as tuna and mackerel and in fortified foods such as milk, cereal and orange juice. Oral supplementation of Vitamin D can be found in cod liver oil, tablets and capsules.

Recommended daily dosage varies widely between the United States, Canada and Europe. Consult your doctor for information regarding the blood test used to measure your serum level of this fertility enhancing vitamin.


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