Most people understand the need for vitamin D for bone health, but few people understand its crucial role in our fertility. We have receptors for vitamin D in many organs and glands including our prostate and testes (Male), ovaries, endometrium and breast tissue (females). When vitamin D binds to the vitamin D receptors it influences gene expression and thereby affects tissue function.
In females, vitamin D is involved in steroid hormone production which includes progesterone and oestrogens. Women with PCOS and/or annovulatory cycles have been found in studies to often have low levels of vitamin D. Men with low levels of vitamin D are more likely to have poor sperm motility and abnormal morphology (sperm shape). The sperm themselves have vitamin D receptors which are linked to sperm maturity, survival and the ability to bind to and fertilise the ovum. Vitamin D increases testosterone levels in men.
Then in pregnancy, vitamin D is necessary in supporting the baby’s bone development and deficiencies during this time can reduce birth weight, reduce infant calcium levels, and increase the risk of childhood illness and allergies.
Improving your levels of Vitamin D
Exposure to direct sunlight is necessary for vitamin D production in the skin. Depending on where you live, in summer months this may only need to be a few minutes a day. Always be sensible about this and follow sun safety guidelines, but also don’t spend all day inside either.
The best sources of vitamin D in your diet are oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, herring, sardines, cod. Vitamin D is also found in butter and eggs and being a fat soluble vitamin it can be stored within our bodies in our fatty tissue.
If you are not sure you are getting enough vitamin D, consider a vitamin D supplement or at least talk to your naturopath, herbalist or doctor.
Medical Herbalist, Naturopath, Natural Fertility Specialist.
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