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Getting Your Vitamin D for Fertility

a blog by Claire, August 14, 2012

A recent study at the Drexel University School of Public Health found that people with a combination of obesity and vitamin D deficiency were at increased risk of insulin resistance, which is, of course, bad for fertility and for overall health.

The researchers analyzed data on serum vitamin D levels and indicators of insulin resistance and diabetes from 5,806 respondents to a major national health survey, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They found that while obese individuals with healthy levels of vitamin D had insulin resistance approximately 20 times more often than the overall study population, obese individuals whose serum vitamin D was low had insulin resistance about 32 tines more often than the overall study population.

Researchers don't know for sure whether obesity causes a low vitamin D level or vice versa. The vitamin is stored in the adipose fat tissues, and people who are overweight are more likely to have low levels of serum vitamin D. Deficiency of the vitamin is linked to many health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, depression, dementia — and infertility.

A study from Yale University found that only 7 percent of 67 infertile women studied had normal Vitamin D levels, and not a single woman with an ovulatory disorder had normal levels. In addition, last winter, scientists from the Austrian Medical University of Graz published a thorough literature review of studies relevant to the effects of vitamin D on male and female fertility. Published in the European Journal of Endocrinology, they found that sunlight, a source of vitamin D, boosted fertility levels in men and women that correlated with serum levels of vitamin D. The vitamin was found to increase progesterone and estrogen in women and increase sperm count, testosterone levels and libido in men.

Sex in the sun, anyone?

Really, though, vitamin D is an important vitamin for many reasons. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin D for adults ages 19 to 50 is 600 IU (15 mcg). Some health professionals think these levels should be raised. As the days grow shorter this fall, here are several ways you can increase your intake of the vitamin:

  • Expose your face and hands to about 10 minutes of direct sunlight daily. After that, put on sunscreen.
  • Eat foods that naturally include vitamin D, such as salmon, mackeral and egg yolks.
  • Eat foods that are fortified with vitamin D, such as skim milk, soy milk and orange juice.
  • Talk to your doctor about whether a vitamin D supplement is right for you. Particularly in people who are overweight or obese, a supplement may help with insulin resistance. Also, if you are trying to conceive or undergoing fertility treatment, your doctor may recommend a supplement.

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