When trying to conceive, maintaining good overall health is critical for both conception and the well-being of the fetus. Vitamin D specifically could have an impact on your pregnancy and even your ability to conceive. Taking extra care of yourself in the months leading up to conception is just as important as taking care of yourself during pregnancy. Are you getting the proper vitamins to keep you healthy?
What is Vitamin D?
Also known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is produced by the body in response to exposure to the sun. Vitamin D helps your body maintain healthy bones and teeth as well as defend against diseases like cancer, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. Despite the name, vitamin D isn’t technically a vitamin; it’s considered a prohormone because it isn’t a hormone the body produces naturally.
What’s the Best Way to Get Vitamin D?
The body isn’t strong enough to make the required amount of vitamin D during the winter months, especially if you live in the north. If you use sunscreen daily, you may be blocking around 93% of the vitamin D that comes from the sun’s rays, but there are other ways to increase your intake of the sunshine vitamin
In Your Diet
One of the best and most efficient ways of getting your daily dose of vitamin D is through what you eat. Wild-caught fish, like salmon, are an excellent source of the vitamin, as well as beef and calf liver. Egg yolks, milk, and yogurt are also great sources of vitamin D and will help keep your bones strong and healthy. Keep these foods in mind as you plan your week’s meals and you’ll be set!
From the Sun
Although not typically recommended, a small amount of sun exposure can do your body good. Stephen Honig of the Osteoporosis Center at the Hospital for Joint Diseases recommends 20-25 minutes of sun exposure to get the proper amount of vitamin D. Just be sure you’re not staying in the sun too long as too much exposure could cause skin problems.
A supplement is the perfect solution for folks who aren’t particularly fond of vitamin D-rich foods and don’t want to risk skin cancer out in the sun. Vitamin D supplements can be taken daily for the appropriate amount of the vitamin. It’s best to check with your doctor before choosing your dosage amount. Too much vitamin D can be toxic to the body.
How Does Vitamin D Affect Fertility?
Vitamin D deficiencies are often linked with infertility. Women with high levels of vitamin D are more likely to conceive than women with a vitamin D deficiency. The vitamin D receptor is present in many organs such as the ovaries, uterus, and even the placenta. When bound to its receptor, vitamin D has control over the genes involved in making estrogen.
In two studies conducted on mostly Caucasian and non-Hispanic white women, those with appropriate amounts of vitamin D were four times more likely to become pregnant using IVF than women with low levels of vitamin D. A separate study found that donor egg recipients with normal levels of vitamin D were more likely to get pregnant as well.
Maintaining appropriate levels of vitamin D is a great way to keep yourself in good overall health. If you find yourself struggling to get enough of the sunshine vitamin, consult your physician.
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