How Your Vitamin D Levels Impact Fertility & Pregnancy
February 21, 2019
Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, may have a greater impact on fertility and pregnancy than researchers once believed. Our bodies absorb vitamin D from sunlight as well as from the foods we consume. It is recommended that all women ages 14 to 50 obtain 600 IU of vitamin D each day.1
Fetal growth needs, inadequate intake and limited exposure to sunlight make vitamin D deficiency common among pregnant women.2 Women who are planning for pregnancy may want to consider taking a prenatal vitamin with vitamin D if they are not able to obtain adequate levels through diet alone.
Vitamin D and Fertility
With infertility rates around 15 percent in North America, researchers have set out to understand the role that vitamins play in reproduction.3 Recent studies have looked specifically at vitamin D levels and how they affect assisted reproductive technologies, such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).3,4 Independent studies found that women with sufficient levels of vitamin D had significantly higher rates of pregnancy per IVF cycle.3,4 The finding suggests that vitamin D supplementation could provide an easy and cost effective way to improve pregnancy rates.3
Vitamin D and Pregnancy Complications
Studies also have indicated an association between vitamin D and pregnancy complications in women who have low levels of this vital nutrient.
Associated Risk of Gestational Diabetes
- Gestational diabetes is the leading cause of complications associated with childbirth.2 While there’s not a clear cause-and-effect relationship, there does appear to be an association between low maternal levels of vitamin D and an increased risk of gestational diabetes. In a review of 29 observational studies from 2008 to 2017 that included nearly 29,000 expecting mothers, vitamin D deficiency was associated with a 39 percent increased risk of gestational diabetes.2
Associated Risk of Preeclampsia
- Preeclampsia is a condition that affects women who are pregnant. It causes them to develop both high blood pressure and high protein levels in their urine. If left untreated and in severe cases, preeclampsia can be fatal to mothers and their babies.5 The elevated blood pressure associated with preeclampsia may put mothers at risk for brain injury, impaired kidney and liver function, blood clotting issues, fluid buildup in the lungs, and seizures.5
- Vitamin D deficiency may be an independent risk factor for preeclampsia.6 In fact, women with gestational diabetes are more likely to develop preeclampsia.2 So it’s not too surprising that a vitamin D deficiency is also associated with an increased risk of preeclampsia.
Low Birth Weight
- Research has shown that maternal vitamin D deficiency may be correlated to neonate low birth weights. Modifying maternal nutrition and increasing vitamin D levels could be beneficial in helping to prevent low birth weights.7
Prescription Prenatal Vitamin with Vitamin D
Incorporating food sources rich in vitamin D is one way to meet your nutritional goals. Unfortunately very few foods contain vitamin D naturally.1 The flesh of fatty fish (such as salmon or tuna) and fish liver oils are the best natural sources of vitamin D.1 Cheese and egg yolks contain small amounts of vitamin D. It is also found in fortified foods, such as milk, cereals and some yogurts.1
Some women still may find it difficult to meet the recommended vitamin D intake through their diet and sun exposure. A prenatal vitamin with vitamin D can help fill nutritional gaps. Prenate® Vitamin Family offers a line of prescription nutritional supplements designed for all stages of pregnancy, from preconception through postpartum. Some Prenate® vitamins contain up 1,000 IU of vitamin D3.8-10 They are formulated with the latest recommendations from obstetric and pediatric organizations in mind. Plus, nutrient forms are selected for their tolerability and absorbability. Talk with your doctor about whether a prescription prenatal vitamin from the Prenate® Vitamin Family may be right for you.