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Can the Sunshine Vitamin D Improve Sperm Performance?
a blog by Marta Montenegro, March 4, 2014
More often than not, we look at the woman’s health side when discussing fertility issues. But men need to be part of the conversation too. One major topic of discussion: low vitamin D levels.
Chances are you have heard about the benefits of adequate vitamin D – from heart health to diabetes to decreased belly fat. But does vitamin D levels affect fertility, especially for men? The Unit of Reproductive Endocrinology at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece, recently reviewed 30 years of research involving vitamin D and human reproduction. They found evidence for a “favorable effect of vitamin D supplementation on semen quality, testosterone concentrations, and fertility outcomes.” The bad news: some studies have reported that most people, especially men, run low in vitamin D. The leading factors include aging, limited sun exposure, and/or certain cholesterol drugs.
If a man suspects low vitamin D is the source of his fertility problems, he should first talk to his doctor who can run a blood test to measure serum 25(OH) D concentration, which can determine if he is D deficient. A serum level of 20 ng/mL is considered “good” although some studies have shown higher benefits in the 25-35 ng/mL range.
The Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) of vitamin D for most people is 600IU. How much should you take to reach serum 25 (OH) D levels? It is quite easy. For every 1ng/mL that you need to bump up, you require an additional 100IU of vitamin D per day.
Supplements are an easy way to get more D. If your doctor advises to take one, look for Vitamin D-3, which has shown to raise the levels more effectively than D-2. Equally important is to take it with your biggest meal as this increases its absorption by 50%, according to a study from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation Bone Clinic.
Besides supplements, you can increase your vitamin D levels with foods, such as egg yolk, salmon, fortified milk, yogurt, and cheese. Vitamin D is called the “sunshine vitamin” because your body can get it from the sun. And while some sun exposure (about 10 minutes) can complement your vitamin D diet and supplements, relying too much on sunlight may increase your risk of skin cancer. It’s often safer to stick with supplements and food.
Be aware that too much vitamin D can increase one’s risk of heart and liver issues. However, if the “boys” need some help, a little extra D may do the trick.