Vitamin D deficiency cases have been recorded in the past few years, something that not only affects general health, but also puts female and male fertility at stake. In an abstract from the European Journal of Endocrinology, it was confirmed that Vitamin D may enhance semen quality and androgen status, and Vitamin D treatment can increase testosterone levels. Regarding the females, the same study confirmed that Vitamin D might influence steroidogenesis of sex hormones, i.e. progesterone and estradiol in healthy women.
For so long, Vitamin D has been known for its major function in maintaining calcium and phosphorus homeostasis and promoting bone mineralization. Deeper studies and reviews have indicated to the fact that vitamin D regulates reproductive functions in both males and females.
The vitamin D metabolizing enzymes and vitamin D receptor is found in reproductive tissues of both men and women. Issues with vitamin D receptor knockout mice have significant gonadal insufficiency, reduced sperm motility and count, histological abnormalities of testis, uterus, and the ovary
Vitamin D & Women With PCOS
In women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), low 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25 “OH” D) levels are linked to obesity, endocrine problems, metabolic, and in addition, Vitamin D supplementation can help to improve menstrual frequency and metabolic issues in women.
The same is applicable to women with endometriosis, vitamin D can influence steroidogenesis of sex hormones to lower the levels of 25(OH)D
Vitamin D & Male Fertility
In reproductive men, Vitamin D is essential for semen and sperm quality as well as androgen status. Attain more vitamin D or its treatment may help increase testosterone levels- testiculopathic men indicate low CYP21R expression, Osteoporosis, and low 25(OH)D levels regardless of the normal testosterone levels.
Vitamin D in IVF
Vitamin D is known to influence pregnancy rates in IVF, according to the experiments conducted on mice. Women to undergo IVF treatment must pay attention to their vitamin D levels since it influences egg development in the ovaries, uterine lining and embryo implantation. Recent studies indicated that women with high Vitamin D levels were more likely to achieve pregnancy compared to women with lower Vitamin D levels.
Other studies conducted on donor recipients indicated that vitamin D levels were highly associated with clinical pregnancy. Once a woman becomes pregnant, the uterus and the placenta continue making calcitriol (Vitamin D) to facilitate the arrangement of the immune cells in the uterus in order to fight infections without harming the growing fetus.
In the case of low vitamin D levels, certain complications such as diabetes and gestational hypertension may be witnessed.
Studies show that 40% and more women lack enough vitamin D, yet essential for bone health and the absorption of calcium. There are numerous risk factors for vitamin D deficiency that include PCOS, obesity, autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease and a major health issue of cancer.
Reliable sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, tuna, but limit its consumption due to its mercury levels, specifically, safer tuna types are recommended. Other sources include dairy products, cheese, egg yolk, green vegetables, liver among others.