Thursday, December 23, 2010

On vitamin D

I came across two things which I beleive I should share. The first was a news report about a finding presented at a fertility conference. This group at Yale tested blood levels of Vitamin D in 67 'infertile' women. 93% of women had levels that were low or clinically deficient. That is pretty amazing, IMO.

The second is this recently published study, where they basically found that higher the vitamin D levels in your follicular fluid, the higher your chances were of achieving pregnancy in IVF.

My advice to everybody struggling to get or stay pregnant- do a blood test for this vitamin. Its not the most expensive thing and seems like a reasonable thing to check out.  Testing your levels before taking vitamin D supplementation would be prudent because you would have to tailor your dosage to your blood level.  I was clinically deficient. Granted I had taken my last vitamin D supplement 2 weeks before this blood test, but while I was pregnant, I was consuming around 1500 IU/day, which is about 6 times the daily recommended dosage, and my levels 2 weeks later were still abysmal.

Switching gears now.  In my last post I had said none of my theories have been right.  I just realized that was not true, I have been proven right in the most horrible way. As my second IUI rolled around, I had become really scared as I had looked at my cycle and realized that it was one with fewest days of peak estrogen ever and I was nervous that egg quality might be compromised. (Prophetic blogpost here) 

I went ahead with the insemination because on ultrasound, everything looked decent and nobody knows what parameter really determines egg quality. I did conceive but it was my worst fear realized- a genetically abnormal egg. Its been only a month since that horrible ultrasound, that awful day.  I'm doing very well though, all things considered. I guess I should thank god for small mercies.


  1. Interesting. Vitamin D seems like such a hot topic right now, and so controversial. I've been doing vitamin D supps, 2000-3000 IU per day, on top of the (I believe) 600 IU in my PNV and 600 IU in my calcium supp. My naturopath wants me to have my D levels checked in Jan or Feb, with my 6-month thyroid level check (which I will obviously do sooner if I get pg from this IVF cycle)

    About the estrogen levels and fertility, I found a really interesting study months ago, to which I sadly do not have the link. But it was dealing with epigenetics, and in a nutshell, suggesting that low estrogen levels in chimpanzees during pregnancy with a female fetus will cause the female fetus' reproductive organs to not develop well - in particular, the ovaries. Something like that. All I remember is reading it and going, "OMG! My mom went through menopause early and if she were trying to get pg today would undoubtedly be diagnosed DOR/POF, and so am I, and OMG!" Actually, I think you'll find the study if you just google what I put in quotes there ;-)

  2. Very interesting about the Vitamin D - should put that on my list of things to review...

    And I'm very sorry about your loss...

  3. Very interesting info on Vitamin D...

  4. First of all, I am pretty new to following your blog, so I just wanted to say hi! I am also a scientist. That's very interesting about vitamin D. I will definitely read the papers. Is there any theory as to why some people are presumably better at absorbing vitamin D than others? Also, does the second paper you mention propose why vitamin D may be helpful in achieving and/or maintaining pregnancy? (Sorry for the questions... I suppose I will find out for myself when I read the papers:)

  5. Thanks for the info Jay. Maybe I will check my vit D after all :) There is loads of research going on with D3 at the moment, all the advice to wear sunscreen and avoid skin cancer has meant we are probably all a bit deficient (at least here in NZ where we have highest rates of melanoma due to fair people living under a big ozone hole). They are looking at it's effects on chronic pain, cancer prevention, fertility etc, etc. It really makes sense to me that the lack of it will cause more problems than just Rickets. We are animals that are meant to be running around naked in the sun!! I hope your Christmas is a good one, despite all your recent heartbreak xx

  6. Jay, thank you for sharing the information. I sincerely appreciate you educating us so that we can be better prepared.

  7. Vitamin D (which, as you know, is really a hormone and not a vitamin at all) absolutely fascinates me. Some think of it as this decades vit C or vit E, but I really think we're going to discover that at least in some cases, Vit D lives up to it's reputation at helping a lot more than just bones. The link between vit D and IF is a new one for me - I'll have to do some research on it, too!

    It looks like there's benefits to continuing D once you get your BFP. There's a recent study that showed that women who took 4000 IU of Vit D a day (starting in the second trimester) were less likely to have preterm labor when compared to women who took 400 or 2000 a day.

  8. @ A: I dont think they even begin to have a clue as to how Vitamin D works in fertility. How much vitamin D largely depends on how much sun exposure we have. As Arohanui pointed out, we are animals that are supposed to be walking naked in the sun. Instead, we clothe ourselves, lather on sunscreen, and in my case, unless I have blue water to frolic in, completely avoid the sun. Its really not a surprise that so many of us are vitamin D deficient. There can also be other unknown mechanisms contributing. My mom's side is deficient, and a lot of women have accompanying neuromuscular issues like fibromyalgia. That is why I had my levels checked in the first place.

    @Shannon, that is interesting that 2000 IU did not help but 4000 did.