Of course there’s no one nutrient that will make a huge impact on whether or not you conceive, but there’s more evidence lately that getting enough vitamin D can be particularly useful when it comes to getting pregnant. The latest evidence is a study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) showing that vitamin D shrinks fibroid tumors. It was an animal study (the research was done on rats), so it’s far from conclusive for humans, but it’s still an encouraging finding since uterine fibroids are, says the NIH summary of the study, “the most common noncancerous tumors in women of childbearing age.” Some 30 percent of women ages 25 to 44 have symptoms related to fibroids, such as low back pain, heavy vaginal bleeding, or painful periods, the NIH report continued – adding that the fibroids are also associated with infertility and complications of pregnancy like miscarriage or preterm labor. African American women are particularly likely to have uterine fibroids.
In the NIH study, 12 rats – all of whom had been bred to be genetically susceptible to uterine fibroids – were confirmed to have the fibroids. Of that group, half got vitamin D and half didn’t. Their finding: “Fibroids increased in size in the untreated rats, but, in the rats receiving vitamin D, the tumors had shrunk dramatically. On average, uterine fibroids in the group receiving vitamin D were 75 percent smaller than those in the untreated group,” said the NIH summary.
The rats got the equivalent of 1,400 international units (IU) per day of the vitamin; the recommended amount for most adults is 600 IU, though up to 4,000 IU is considered safe. Good sources of vitamin D are fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel and fortified foods, like milk. You can also get more D from sunlight.
Another report came out recently in the European Journal of Endocrinology attempting to look at much of the research relating to fertility and vitamin D. NursingTimes.com reports that there still aren’t many human studies looking at whether getting more of the vitamin improves the odds of conception and delivering a healthy baby, but there is evidence that vitamin D “plays a role in biological processes in sperm and ovary cells and may affect levels of sex hormones,” says the site. So getting enough seems to be important to basic healthy function of reproduction.
One study did find that in countries where there is little sunlight during the winter conception rates drop, and peak in the summer months when there is lots of sunlight.
Do you take preconception supplements? Would you take more vitamin D?