Vitamin D and Fertility: Three out of Four Americans Suffer from a Deficiency

I have lost count of the number of times the importance of Vitamin D has been brought to my attention, over and over and over again. Making sure your Vitamin D is at the right level is one of the first steps to consciously conceiving.

Vitamin D is not actually a vitamin and in fact behaves more like a hormone. It is generated in the skin, moves into your bloodstream, then travels into the liver and the kidney where it becomes activated as a key steroid hormone called Calcitriol.

“Studies show that as many as three out of four Americans suffer from Vitamin D
deficiency. A study published in 2009 in the Archives of Internal Medicine (a
leading scientific journal), found that 70% of Caucasians, 90% of Hispanics and
97% of African Americans in the US have insufficient blood levels of Vitamin D.
Indeed, it’s thought to be the most common medical condition in the world,
affecting over one billion people and we now have research showing just how
essential Vitamin D is to health.” (Lipman)

“In the past few years, numerous studies have shown that optimizing your Vitamin
D levels may actually help prevent as many as 16 different types of cancer
including pancreatic, lung, breast, ovarian, prostate, and colon cancers (Lipman).

Now here is a very important tip I myself only recently learned. What is considered the “normal” level by most medical professionals (20 to 55 ng/ml) is far too low! Your levels should be between 50 (some say 60) – 80 ng/ml.

On my first visit to my current OBGYN she took one look at my lab results and the first words out of her mouth were “your Vitamin D is way too low,” it was ~30.

If you have not had your Vitamin D tested lately, ask your doctor to give you a lab slip and head down to your local lab. The correct blood test is 25OH vit D or 25 Hydroxy Vitamin D.

When it comes to Vitamin D, you will likely need more than your food alone. It is nearly impossible to have all your Vitamin D needs met by food. Though fatty wild fish (e.g., salmon) are a good source, as is orange juice, you will need other ways to obtain Vitamin D.

One option is to take Vitamin D3 supplements. Another is to ensure that you have some exposure to the sun every day. Note: you can get too much Vitamin D from supplements (Vitamin D toxicity). As such if you are taking supplements, work with your healthcare practitioner to monitor your level once or twice a year.

The best way to get some sun is in short and frequent spurts. Note: this exposure must be outside; glass windows block the UVB rays necessary to generate Vitamin D. You should only stay in the sun without sun-block for 15-30 minutes (depending on skin tone and proximity to the sun). After that period of time you need to pull out the sun protection, put on a hat to protect your face, and cover up with light colored clothing.

When you do apply sunscreen, use one with fewer chemicals. Check out the  Environmental Working Group’s list of safer sunscreens. And remember that even weak
sunscreens block the ability of your skin to manufacture Vitamin D, so once you have applied it, you will not be making Vitamin D.

Finally, you can boost your “internal sunscreen” by consuming lots of vegetables and fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, and pomegranates.

Sources:
Lipman, Frank (2003). TOTAL RENEWAL; 7 key steps to Resilience, Vitality and Long-Term Health.
Vitamin D. Goop. http://goop.com/newsletter/88/en/  
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