Marta Montenegro | PhD-c | MS | MSF | CSFN | CSCS
Doctorate in Clinical Nutrition, candidate | Fertility Counselor
Can Sunshine’s Vitamin D Improve Sperm Performance?
Most often than not, we look at the women’s health side when talking about fertility matters. However, nowadays the way we eat – another French fries to go! -, the time that we spend glued to a chair, the increased work-related stress, the little physical activity that we do, all this has significantly changed, and its effects carry a toll not just in us, but also in men. So, it should be no surprise that men fertility issues are on the rise.
Chances are that you have heard about the benefits of adequate vitamin D – from heart health to diabetes, to decreased belly fat. But does vitamin D level affect fertility? At least, there is some evidence on the male side. The Unit of Reproductive Endocrinology at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece, reviewed 30 years of research involving vitamin D and human reproduction, and found “evidence for a favorable effect of vitamin D supplementation on semen quality, testosterone concentrations, and fertility outcomes.” Likewise, some studies have reported that most of the people are running low in this hormone like vitamin. However, before reaching for a vitamin D supplement, first talk to your doctor who can run a blood test to measure your serum 25(OH) D concentration. At least, a serum level of 30ng/mL is considered “good”; nevertheless, some studies have shown higher benefits from 35-50 ng/mL range – do not exceed a serum level of 75 ng/mL though-.
Although the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for most people is 600IU, there is some evidence that the body needs more to function at its best. If your doctor advises to take a supplement, look for Vitamin D3 which it shows to raise the levels more effectively than D2. Equally important is to pop this pill with your biggest meal to increase its absorption in 50% as it shows in a study from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation Bone Clinic.
How much should you take to increase the serum 25 (OH) D levels? Pretty easy, for every 1ng/mL that you need to bump, you will need an additional of 100IU of vitamin D per day. Besides supplements, you can increase your vitamin D intake with foods, such as egg yolk, salmon, fortified milk, yogurt, and cheese. Although, beware that too much vitamin D can increase the risk of heart and liver issues. However, odds are your levels may be somewhere low due to factors like aging, limited sun exposure, and/or if you are under cholesterol drugs. And of course, if the “guys” are not performing well, check the sunshine vitamin D out!