Vitamin d deficiency , COVID-19 brought Vitamin D to the forefront of our attention in the past year. Due to Black people’s darker melanin, we tend to not absorb the sun as well and have lower levels of Vitamin D. In the early stages of the pandemic when scientists were looking to discover why COVID was affecting Black people at a much higher rate, low Vitamin D was considered to be one of the many factors.
Vitamin D is not something that primary care physicians look at during an annual physical but a vitamin D deficiency can cause depression, fatigue, immune and cardiovascular issues and if serious enough, cancer. During your annual physical your physician would run a typical CBC (complete blood count) panel, which measures your general health but does NOT check for vitamin D or other specialized bloodwork. It would require you to be aware of your medical history and your family history and to request that additional blood work be done to test for any medical abnormalities.
The first time I became aware that I had a Vitamin D deficiency was when I was going through an extensive blood panel at a fertility clinic before I began my first round of IVF and was immediately put on a supplement. Post- IVF, when I felt that my hormones were totally out of whack due to IVF, I went to a medical spa to get more extensive blood work done. What I learned was that my Vitamin D was dangerously low. My vitamin D was measuring 13.25 and the range is expected to be 25-40 and I was immediately put on a weekly vitamin D3 shot that was 50,000IU. Vitamin d deficiency for about six months I remained on this course, and when I had my annual physical, I requested a Vitamin D3 panel and I was then measuring 28.7.
So why is this important and how does it affect your fertility?
- It is believed that Vitamin D3 helps with implantation which means it gives you higher odds of the embryo implanting in the lining of your uterus.
- For those who are going through IVF, some studies have shown that low Vitamin D can negatively affect transfer rates of frozen embryo eggs.
- Vitamin D also helps with quality sperm development and motality.
Make sure you request a Vitamin D panel with your regular blood work the next time you go in for your annual physical for your general knowledge, especially if you are Black and/or suffering with infertility.
VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY
When the skin is exposed to UVB radiation (from sunlight) a molecule known as 7-dehydrocholesterol (derived from cholesterol) is converted to cholecalciferol, also known as D3. Cholecalciferol can also be obtained from the diet or by supplementation (D3). Cholecalciferol travels to the liver where it is converted to 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD). The kidney then converts 25OHD to 1,25-hydroxyvitamin D (1,25OHD), also known as calcitriol the active form of vitamin D, which possesses hormonal properties and regulates calcium and phosphate balance.
Vitamin d deficiency Cholecalciferol or D3 can be obtained directly without the need for UVB radiation either from the diet (sources oily fish, eggs and butter) or via supplementation. Vitamin D3 supplements are generally from animal sources although vegan sources of D3 can be obtained from lichens.
Another plant based form of vitamin D, known as ergocalciferol or D2, can also be obtained from the diet (rich food sources are mushrooms, fortified soya milk and almond milk) or via supplementation. Vitamin D2 can also be converted by the liver to 25-hydroxyvitamin D and then to 1, 25-hydroxyvitamin D by the kidneys6,7.