You know that vitamin D is one of those essential nutrients we need to be healthy, and you probably know it’s a key player during pregnancy, too. But did you know that vitamin D may directly affect fertility? How about the fact that vitamin D deficiencies are worryingly common — i.e., among the most common nutritional deficiencies in the world? If a baby is the plan, it’s worth understanding the influence that the right form of vitamin D in the right amount has on your fertility. Luckily, we’ve got you covered.
- Vitamin D deficiencies are among the most common in the world, and roughly 40% of the U.S. population is considered deficient.
- Women with sufficient levels of vitamin D are more likely to become pregnant following IVF.
- Supplementing with vitamin D may also improve hormonal function among women with PCOS.
- Vitamin D positively affects sperm motility, making it important for men as well as women.
- Supplementing is the best way to ensure you’re getting enough vitamin D to optimize fertility.
Soaking up the Vitamin D
Vitamin D has a cute nickname — the sunshine vitamin — because a little sunshine can kickstart your body’s production of this nutrient. In fact, given enough time in the sun, we can actually make all we need. For most of us, unfortunately, that’s not terribly realistic. But you won’t find a ton of foods that are naturally high in vitamin D either, so maybe it’s not too hard to understand why vitamin D deficiencies are such an issue. Adults should get between 1,500 and 2,000 International units (IU) of vitamin D every day — numbers that go up during pregnancy — and roughly 40% of the U.S. population isn’t meeting that need.
That's a problem, thanks to symptoms that include a lowered immune system, chronic fatigue, bone and back pain, depression, bone and hair loss, muscle pain, weight gain, and anxiety. But for couples trying to conceive, a vitamin D deficiency may be an extra complication, particularly if you’re going the IVF route.
Vitamin D and Fertility
Multiple studies link adequate levels of vitamin D to higher fertility rates in both women and men. Women with higher levels of vitamin D show a four-fold increase in successfully achieving pregnancy following IVF, and other studies have found an association between high vitamin D levels and higher pregnancy rates. Interestingly, vitamin D may also play a role in fertility for women who are navigating PCOS. Specifically, vitamin D supplementation is being linked to an improvement in hormonal function among women with PCOS.
There’s another reason to ensure you’re getting enough vitamin D when a baby is the plan. During pregnancy, your baby needs this essential nutrient for healthy bone development. For mamas-to-be, low levels of vitamin D are linked to all kinds of issues, including higher miscarriage rates, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, preterm delivery, postpartum depression. It’s impossible to predict how long it will take you to become pregnant, and you may not even realize you’ve conceived for at least a few weeks. By supplementing early — as soon as you decide you want to try for a baby — with a prenatal vitamin that includes the recommended amount of vitamin D, you’re bolstering your own nutrient stores.
On the men’s side of the baby-making equation, the research for supplementing with vitamin D (and other critical nutrients) is just as persuasive. Vitamin D is a key player for improving sperm motility, one of the parameters of healthy sperm. And since healthy sperm means a better chance at conception, vitamin D is worth prioritizing.
Supplementing with Vitamin D
Basking in the sun isn’t feasible for most of us, and it’s really difficult to get enough vitamin D through diet alone. So what’s left? Clearly, a vitamin D supplement. But for fertility, your best bet is getting vitamin D in addition to nutrients proven by science to improve your chances of success. Yes, we’re talking about prenatal vitamins, though not just any prenatal will do.
According to the America Pregnancy Association, most prenatal vitamins are seriously lacking on the vitamin D front: “It is unlikely your prenatal vitamin provides enough vitamin D. A recent study found women taking 4,000 IU of vitamin D daily had the greatest benefits in preventing preterm labor/births and infections.”
That’s where Beli for Women and Beli for Men come in. We use vitamin D3 in both our women’s and men’s prenatals, since studies show it’s more effective at raising levels. Plus, our lichen-sourced D3, which is from Vitashine, is a vegan option that’s sustainable to boot.
Beli began as a way to fill the gap in the market for a high-quality, science-aligned men’s prenatal that would deliver optimal nutrients for sperm health. Our women’s prenatal vitamin is made with science-backed ingredients scientifically shown to benefit mom and baby, and most importantly, we followed the latest guidelines and recommendations for appropriate amounts of all nutrients in our formula. That includes the APA recommendation of 4,000 IU, which is why our women’s prenatal vitamin contains 100mcg — the equivalent of the 4,000 IU recommendation. Keep in mind, the average prenatal vitamin comes in around 400 IU, which means extra supplementation is critical.
When it comes to fertility, vitamin D is one of several nutrients recommended for both women and men. And if the plan is a baby, a prenatal vitamin that meets the needs of both partners — along with current recommendations for adequate amounts of vitamin D — is one of the easiest ways to ensure you’re covering all of your bases.