vitamin D and pregnancyCanadian researchers have discovered a promising link between a woman's vitamin D intake and her chances of successfully getting pregnant using in vitro fertilization (IVF). Women who plan to undergo IVF may want to consider adding vitamin D to their diet before IVF procedures begin, according to the study, published in the latest edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).

The study, conducted by fertility researchers at Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital, involved 173 Canadian women aged 18 to 41, all in the process of IVF. Within a week after eggs were removed from each woman's body, samples of her blood serum were tested for 25(OH)D. The serum samples allowed the research team to measure each woman's vitamin D status. In addition to the serum samples, demographics and IVF cycles were considered.

The study's findings include:

  • 55% of the study group had sufficient levels of vitamin D in their blood serum
  • 45% had inadequate or deficient levels
  • Of those with sufficient vitamin D intake, 52.5% showed significantly higher rates of pregnancy per IVF cycle
  • Those with insufficient levels experienced pregnancy at a rate of 34.7%
  • Women with high body mass indexes (BMIs) were more prone to be deficient in vitamin D levels

An adequate supply of vitamin D is vital to the health of a baby since it works in conjunction with calcium to produce the strongest bones and teeth. People who don't get enough vitamin D in their diet or through regular exposure to sunlight on their skin do not fully absorb dietary calcium.

The effects ofvitamin D on a person's health status is of particular concern in Canada and other locales in the northern latitudes, where sunlight becomes scarce during long winter months. In addition to the health of bones and teeth, vitamin D plays a significant role in the health of the immune system.

The rate of infertility in Canada is about 16%, affecting one out of every six Canadian couples. This rate has doubled since 1980, according to Health Canada.

Vitamin D occurs naturally in cheese, eggs, fatty fish, and fish oils. Fatty fish, such as cod, halibut, and salmon, are those that live in deep, cold waters. Vitamin D is often added to commercially sold milk and orange juice. Check labels to make sure this important nutrient is added when buying these beverages.