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Vitamins and Infertility

Vitamins and Infertility - Dietary sources of vitamins A, D, and E!
Vitamins and Infertility – Dietary sources of vitamins A, D, and E!

Can vitamins impact infertility? Certain vitamins are essential in maintaining fertility and we have included sources where you can find these vitamins to incorporate into your diet.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is crucial for the functioning of various body systems and organs. One of these systems is the reproductive system.

Spermatogenesis  is quite dependent on vitamin a. It is what helps keep structures such as the epididymis and seminal vesicle functioning. without it, instead of finding those structures you might find “stratified squamous keratinizing epithelium.”

In females the problems could be found in ovulation. A study on vitamin A deficient rats showed that the rats were unable to ovulate and form corpora lutea routinely. researchers were also not able to see blastogenesis occur. vitamin A could play a crucial role even after fertilization! it has been shown that a mother’s vitamin A keeps the placenta in good condition.

In studies performed on pigs, it was observed that a lack of vitamin A resulted in several birth defects including cleft palate, lack of eye development etc. embryos observed during days 12.5-20.5 demonstrated a range of defects in vision related structures such as the retina and iris.

The nervous system also uses vitamin A for functions such as neural differentiation. Vitamin A deficient (vad) quail embryos have been observed to have underdeveloped hindbrains. They also did not have many spinal cord neurons. Some other problems were observed in vad rat embryos; these included:

  • impaired heart morphogenesis
  • non-compartmentalized heart
  • embryonic renal hypoplasia
  • impaired diaphragm development.
  • bilateral lung hypoplasia

There are many more conditions that can develop in embryos. however, making sure that you include sufficient amounts of vitamin A in your diet prevents such birth defects. It is important to keep in mind that eating healthy is very important during early pregnancy and even pre-pregnancy. It is often stressed by health professionals to get your vitamins from food rather than supplements, and the same is true for vitamins and infertility. Vitamin A can be found in variety of foods including:

  • green leafy vegetables
  • dairy products.
  • carrots
  • sweet potatoes, tomatoes
  • red bell peppers
  • squash and pumpkin
  • essentially any orange colored food!

References:

1. Clagett-Dame et al. “Vitamin A in Reproduction and Development” Nutrients. Mar 29 2011

2. “Vitamin A” Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Vitamin D

Scientists are still not completely sure whether vitamin d deficiency is associated with IVF outcomes. The authors of one study did conclude, however, that vitamin D does not affect pregnancy, live birth, and miscarriage rates. They found reason to believe vitamin D is involved in folliculogenesis, oogenesis and endometrial receptivity. Studies are split between whether vitamin D deficiency is a serious issue for individuals who plan on using ART. Certain fertility clinics screen patients for vitamin d deficiency prior to beginning treatment. A good level of vitamin D for fertility treatments is often considered to be 30 ng/ml. It is important to be able to maintain this level even throughout a pregnancy as studies have shown vitamin D deficiency may induce preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and other conditions. The reason for this may be that vitamin D is known to be involved in the embryo implantation process. It controls the genes that generate estrogen and also helps to shift around immune cells in the uterus to fight off infections. Some good sources of vitamin D include:

  • oily fish
  • red meat
  • liver
  • egg yolks
  • supplements (because it can sometimes be difficult to get sufficient amounts from diet and sunshine). We recommend the BlueBonnet brand available on Amazon.

Serum Vitamin D status is associated with increased blastocyst development rate in women undergoing IVF.
• Strong relationship was observed between blastocyst development and VitD sufficiency- linking vitamins and infertility.

• For every single increase in a blastocyst generated or embryo cryopreserved, the likelihood of VitD sufficiency increased by 32%. 

•  There was no association between VitD and clinical pregnancy or live birth outcomes.

• Larger studies should investigate whether the effect on blastocyst development may affect subsequent clinical pregnancy and live birth rates.


Nikita L. Walz et al., RBMO 2020

References:

Vitamin E 

It is clear that micronutrients, vitamins and infertility go hand-in-hand. Researchers from another study were able to determine an association between recurring abortion and low plasma vitamin e levels and increased lipid peroxidation levels in women. Regarding fetus/embryo growth, it’s important to bring up the study of in vitro matured and fertilized bovine oocytes. The zygotes derived from them when cultured in vitamin E, vitamin C, and EDTA were more likely to enter the blastocyst stage than the control medium. Current studies indicate there is still more we need to know about vitamin E! The University of Rochester is currently conducting trials involving 48 infertile men and 20 fertile men on how vitamin E affects sperm fragmentation. DNA fragmentation occurs due to oxidative stress. Because vitamin E is an antioxidant, it can combat such oxidative stress. It leaves us questioning if vitamin E deficiency perhaps leads to DNA fragmentation? Want to try and incorporate more vitamin E into your diet? Here’s some foods that Healthline listed, which you should eat!

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Almonds
  • Sunflower oil
  • Hazelnuts (I’m going to go eat that Ferrer Rocher now!)
  • Pine nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Avocado
  • Brazil nuts
  • Kiwi

References:

1. Mutalip et al. “Vitamin E as an Antioxidant in Female Reproductive Health” Antioxidants. Feb 2018. 

2. Vitamin E and Male Fertility study on ClinicalTrials.gov

3. Olson et al. “Culture of in vitro-produced bovine embryos with Vitamin E improves development in vitro and after transfer to recipients.” Biol Reproduction. Feb 2000.