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Vitamin D and fertility

Q. I am 32 years old and have been trying to conceive for the past 1 year. My friend has advised me to take vitamin D in addition to other supplements. She told me vitamin D helps in fertility. Is it true?

A. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. It is produced by the body through exposure to sunshine and is present in food such as fatty fish and egg yolk.

It helps the body control the calcium and phosphate levels so that the bones can be healthy and strong. Recent studies have suggested that it may be involved in a range of medical conditions including cardiovascular diseases, cancers and fertility.

Animal studies have suggested that vitamin D may play a part in regulating the reproductive processes. It can affect the production of sex hormones and may help in the production and maturation of sperm. The lining cells of the womb (uterus) and the maturation of egg are also influenced by the levels of vitamin D in the body.

In humans, vitamin D has been shown to help improve ovulation in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and also, to prevent the occurrence of endometriosis. Some studies have also shown that vitamin D supplementation can increase semen quality, testosterone concentrations as well as the success rates of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).

Despite all these accumulating evidence, there is no general consensus that vitamin D can boost fertility and conception rates. More extensive research is needed to determine its role in reproductive health.

Nevertheless, since vitamin D can be easily obtained through sunshine, food or supplements, there is nothing to lose and possibly much to gain by making sure that its levels in the body is optimal in the preparation for a healthy pregnancy.

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