Could Vitamin D Help Women Undergoing Fertility Treatment?

Vitamin D and FertilityA new meta-analysis and review appearing in Human Reproduction found higher Vitamin D levels were associated with better birth rates in women receiving fertility treatment.

11 studies with over 2,700 women undergoing fertility treatment, frozen embryo transfer, in vitro fertilization (IVF), and/or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) were reviewed.  Participants Vitamin D status was measured by means of blood tests.  75 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L) was considered to be a sufficient Vitamin D status while 50 nmol/L was considered to be deficient. Vitamin D status between those 2 defined limits was considered as insufficient.

Results showed a high amount of Vitamin D deficiency among the study participants with only 26% of women participating in these studies having sufficient serum Vitamin D levels. Additionally 35% of participants had deficient levels of Vitamin D and 45% had insufficient Vitamin D levels.  Researchers also found that women with adequate Vitamin D levels had a 33% higher likelihood of having a live birth when compared with participants whose Vitamin D status was either insufficient or deficient.  Additionally other conception related outcomes were improved in participants with sufficient Vitamin D levels. Women achieving a positive pregnancy test two weeks after an embryo transfer were 34% higher in women with sufficient Vitamin D status when compared with participants with either insufficient or deficient Vitamin D levels.  In studies measuring the presence of a fetal heart beat at 5 weeks after an embryo transfer (“Clinical Pregnancy”), a 46% improvement in outcome was seen in participants considered to have sufficient Vitamin D levels.

Researchers stressed that although no causal connection could be attributed to Vitamin D and pregnancy outcomes, treating Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency could be essential to women undergoing fertility treatment.  Additionally researchers believe a randomized controlled trial is needed to investigate the benefits of Vitamin D deficiency and fertility treatment outcomes.

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Lack of Vitamin D Linked to Diabetes-Related Autoimmunity

Vitamin D and DiabetesNew research has found that making sure children have adequate Vitamin D levels throughout childhood could be important in lowering the risk of islet autoimmunity (IA) in children with a genetic risk for Type 1 Diabetes.  IA is implicated in the progression and development of Type 1 Diabetes.

Data from over 350 children who developed islet autoimmunity was compared with data from over 1,000 children who did not have this disorder.  Researchers found that in “children with a genetic variant in the Vitamin D receptor gene”, children who developed islet autoimmunity had lower Vitamin D levels in both childhood and infancy when compared to children that did not develop IA.  These findings were part of The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young (TEDDY) study.  This multi national study searched for protective factors and triggers of Type 1 Diabetes.  Over 8,600 children with elevated Type 1 Diabetes risks participated in the full TEDDY study.  Every 3 – 6 months the study participants gave a blood sample.  The study began in infancy.

Type 1 Diabetes is considered to be a chronic autoimmune disease and is now the most common metabolic disorder in children under 10 years of age.  The incidence of Type 1 Diabetes is increasing by 3% – 5% annually.

Researchers are looking at future studies to establish a cause and effect between Vitamin D supplementation and its ability to aid in preventing Type 1 Diabetes.

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Recent RCT Discovers Vitamin D Deficiency May Double the Risk of Preeclampsia in Pregnant Women

Vitamin D and Pre-EclampsiaA new study finds that gestational hypertension/preeclampsia could be reduced with Vitamin D supplementation therapy.

Over 140 women with a history of preeclampsia participated in this study.  Women with hypertension before their pregnancy, a history of pulmonary, renal or cardiac disease and Vitamin D levels above 25 ng/ml (optimal Vitamin D levels are considered to be between 40 – 60 ng/ml) were excluded from the trial.    Vitamin D levels were taken at baseline.  70 of the participants (the intervention group) received a 50,000 IU Vitamin D supplement every two weeks.  The remaining participants (the control group) received a placebo.  The study lasted until the 36th week of pregnancy.  The control group experienced a 1.94 times increase in the risk of developing preeclampsia when compared to the intervention group.

Preeclampsia is a form of high blood pressure (hypertension) related to pregnancy and is characterized by excess protein in the urine and high blood pressure.  This condition is fairly easy to treat but can be very harmful to both the child and the mother and accounts for approximately 25% of all maternal deaths.  Preeclampsia also increases the risk the baby will be born prematurely or small for their gestational age with increases the risk of infant mortality.

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Vitamin D Deficiency Link with Multiple Sclerosis: More Evidence

Vitamin D and MSA new study found further evidence of the association between a higher risk of developing Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and a Vitamin D deficiency.  A 43% higher risk of developing MS was seen in women with Vitamin D deficiencies compared to those women with adequate levels of Vitamin D.  Additionally a 27% increase in the risk of developing MS was seen in women with a Vitamin D insufficiency.  A deficiency of Vitamin D was defined as having serum Vitamin D levels of less than 30 nanomoles/litre (nmol/l).  A Vitamin D insufficiency was defined as having a serum Vitamin D level of between 30 to 49 nmol/l.

The findings of this prospective case-control study are in conformity with past observational research.  However without evidence from randomized controlled trials, public health experts are not willing to adopt a policy of recommending Vitamin D supplementation for MS risk reductions.  It may be difficult to design a randomized controlled trial because the timing of the Vitamin D supplementation is unclear.  Additionally the idea of giving a placebo to an individual with a Vitamin D deficiency raises ethical questions.

Researchers believe maintaining Vitamin D status over the long-term is the key to seeing the benefits of Vitamin D.  Striving to maintain a healthy Vitamin D level over the course of one’s life is going to provide the maximum health benefits. Given the low cost of Vitamin D supplementation, researchers stress there is not much to lose from suggesting Vitamin D supplementation be adopted.

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Heart Failure 12 Times More Likely in People with Vitamin D Deficiency

Heart Failure and Vitamin DIn a recent study the risk of heart failure (HF) was over 12 times higher in elderly individuals who were Vitamin D deficient that in individuals who had an adequate Vitamin D status.

Over 130 elderly people 60 years and older who were receiving care for cardiac issues participated in this study.  Vitamin D deficiency was established at below 30 ng/ml for the purposes of this study.  Below 20 ng/ml was considered severely deficient.  This is in contrast with the more widely recognized practice of considering Vitamin D deficiency to be below 20 ng/ml.  Researchers also looked at the health ABC scale to analyze a participant’s risk of heart failure, a higher percentage score showing a higher heart failure risk.

65% of the participants were considered to be Vitamin D deficient (62% of these participants were considered to be severely deficient).  Participants with a Vitamin D deficiency were over 12 times more likely to have heart failure compared with participants who did not have a Vitamin D deficiency.  Vitamin D deficient men participants were over 15 times more likely to have heart failure when compared with women participants and heart failure was over 4 times more likely to occur in obese participants with a Vitamin D deficiency than participants who were not obese.  Vitamin D deficient participants who also experienced hearth arrhythmias had an almost 4 times higher risk of experiencing heart failure when compared with participants who had other forms of cardiovascular disease.

 Researchers concluded that “The risk of HF was present in more than half of the elderly and was strongly associated with Vitamin D deficiency”.  These results are consistent with earlier studies showing the importance that adequate Vitamin D status plays in the elderly for providing both cardiovascular benefits and in supporting bone health.

The study was observational and no causal effect of Vitamin D deficiency on heart failure could be established.  The size of the study was small making the need for larger more randomized controlled studies important in the future to further strengthen these study results.

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Raising Vitamin D Levels May Slash Preterm Birth Risk

Vitamin D and preterm birth ratesA new study finds maintaining strong blood levels of Vitamin D during pregnancy may aid in reducing the risk of delivering a preterm baby by 60%.

Data from over 1000 babies and mothers was analyzed.  Vitamins levels were tested at the mother’s first prenatal visit.  If Vitamin D levels were below 40 ng/ml a supplement was provided and the mother was retested at between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy and again upon the delivery of the baby.  Overall 90% of the women participating in the study initially had Vitamin D levels below 40 ng/ml, with 97% of black women participants having beginning Vitamin D levels lower than 40 ng/ml.  Participants who had Vitamin D levels over the 40 ng/ml at the first follow up test had a 6% preterm delivery rate, which is a full 60% lower rate than the preterm delivery rate found in the normal population.  The non-white participants had an 18% preterm delivery rate at the beginning of the study and a 78% lower rate of preterm births if they increased their Vitamin D above the 40 ng/ml level by the 2nd test.  Preterm birth rates in non-white women were reduced to 4% if they had 2 follow up tests to assess their Vitamin D levels.

The finding of this study confirms previous research which showed a 59% reduction in the risks of pre-term deliveries in women with Vitamin D blood levels of at least 40 ng/ml when compared to women with levels of less than 20 ng/ml.  Researchers believe that because Vitamin D status is modifiable the results of this analysis are important in insuring Vitamin D testing and supplementation in pregnant women is not overlooked.

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Maternal Vitamin D May Be Vital To Childhood Development

Vitamin D and Childhood DevelopmentAccording to new research preventing Vitamin D deficiencies in women who are pregnant may be important for insuring their child’s normal development.

Over 7000 mother child pairs were studied in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children a cohort study.  All pairs were accessed for Vitamin D status (serum total 25(OH)D) levels during pregnancy (for the mother) and at least one measure of child neurodevelopment: Pre-school development at six to 42 months; Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire scores at age 7; IQ (Intelligence Quotient) at age 8; Reading Ability at age 9.  Additional tests assessing the child’s coordination, balancing, jumping, kicking a ball, building brick towers, were performed.

Researchers reported that the children of Vitamin D deficient mothers were more likely to have test scores in the lowest group (the bottom 25%) for pre-school developments tests (gross and fine motor development) when compared to the children of Vitamin D sufficient mothers.  Prenatal Vitamin D insufficiencies were also found to affect the social development of the children at ages 3 and ½.  No associations between maternal Vitamin D status and other outcomes at older ages like IQ or reading abilities were seen.

Researchers concluded that preventing Vitamin D deficiencies in pregnancy may be important to prevent below average development in the first four years of a child’s life.

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