When we think of the importance of vitamin D, our minds automatically jump to calcium absorption and bone health and that if we do not get enough, our bones would not be strong. Other than bone health, vitamin D is a warrior against many other ailments. People who are deficient in vitamin D can experience many different diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. In other words, vitamin D is essential for your overall health. It affects the way the cell carries out its function in the body and preserves your brain and immune health. But when it comes to this super vitamin, people often overlook its substantial role in fertility. (Luk, 2012)
When pregnant women are vitamin D deficient, whether it be from very limited exposure to sunlight or by following a restrictive diet, they are at risk of suffering from gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. Low vitamin D levels also inhibit the development of estrogen, which is essential for egg and sperm quality (Pacis, 2014). Low levels are also linked to depression, anxiety and irritability, which can cause stress on a growing fetus. (Ozdemir, 2018) If there is a long, drawn out period in which the mother has been vitamin D deficient, the newborn can be at risk of developing congenital rickets, which is characterized as muscle and bone weakness in babies. This is comparable to bone weakness and osteoporosis in older adults caused by vitamin D and calcium deficiency (Innes, 2002).
Other than giving a helping hand to estrogen, vitamin D also has a significant counterpart – calcitriol. Calcitriol is the active, hormonal form of vitamin D that increases the level of calcium absorption in the body and manages the genes that make estrogen as well as the genes that contribute to embryo implantation. Calcitriol is produced in the uterine lining once the embryo starts its journey in the uterus and contributes to arranging immune cells in the uterus, so that if there are any infections present, they can be cleared without harming the pregnancy. This is crucial in ensuring the fetus can grow peacefully, without its body being put under stress by defending itself against harmful contagions that may compromise its health (Cermisoni, 2018).
Higher levels of our friendly vitamin have also been proven to be beneficial for women who seek assisted reproductive therapy such as in vitro fertilization. One of many studies conducted, regarding vitamin D in IVF pregnancies, showed that women who were vitamin D sufficient were more likely to conceive and have a live birth. (Chu, 2018). This is not only a helpful discovery for women who are having trouble conceiving but it is also a hopeful one. Previous and continuous research of the roll vitamin D has in fertility can provide a tool for medical professionals to use and teach people, not only how to aid in a successful and smooth pregnancy, but how to live a healthy life.
Cermisoni, G., Alteri, A., Corti, L., Rabellotti, E., Papaleo, E., Viganò, P., & Sanchez, A. (2018). Vitamin D and Endometrium: A Systematic Review of a Neglected Area of Research. International Journal Of Molecular Sciences, 19(8), 2320. doi:10.3390/ijms19082320
Chu, J., Gallos, I., Tobias, A., Tan, B., Eapen, A., & Coomarasamy, A. (2017). Vitamin D and assisted reproductive treatment outcome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Human Reproduction, 33(1), 65-80. doi:10.1093/humrep/dex326
Innes, A Micheil, et al. “Congenital Rickets Caused by Maternal Vitamin D Deficiency.” Paediatrics & Child Health, Pulsus Group Inc, Sept. 2002, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2795674/.
Luk, J., Torrealday, S., Neal Perry, G., & Pal, L. (2012). Relevance of vitamin D in reproduction. Human Reproduction, 27(10), 3015-3027. doi:10.1093/humrep/des248
Özdemir, A., Ercan Gündemir, Y., Küçük, M., Yıldıran Sarıcı, D., Elgörmüş, Y., Çağ, Y., & Bilek, G. (2018). Vitamin D Deficiency in Pregnant Women and Their Infants. Journal Of Clinical Research In Pediatric Endocrinology, 10(1), 44-50. doi:10.4274/jcrpe.4706
Pacis, M., Fortin, C., Zarek, S., Mumford, S., & Segars, J. (2014). Vitamin D and assisted reproduction: should vitamin D be routinely screened and repleted prior to ART? A systematic review. Journal Of Assisted Reproduction And Genetics, 32(3), 323-335. doi:10.1007/s10815-014-0407-9