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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


Vitamin D, Fertility, and Infant Language Development

By Michael McBurney

Hoping to have a baby? Low blood vitamin E concentrations have been associated with infertility and increased risk of miscarriage. Not a trivial association with ~90% of Americans not consuming recommended intakes of vitamin  and 93% and 81% of 20-30 year olds and 31-50 year olds, respectively, having suboptimal vitamin E status. A new study finds vitamin D status is also very important.

To understand if vitamin D concentrations affect fertility, Pagliardini and colleagues measured 25(OH)D3 concentrations in 1,072 women visiting an infertility center. Overall, 40% of the women visiting the clinic were vitamin D insufficient (< 20ng/mL, 50 nmol/L) for the entire year. Being in the lowest quintile for 25(OH)D3 concentrations increased the risk of endometriosis. The prevalence of low vitamin D concentrations was lowest in the latter trimester of pregnancy. In other words, women with the lowest vitamin D concentrations were the least likely to reach full-term.

As discussed previously, vitamin D concentrations were inversely associated with adiposity (measured as body mass index, BMI). Fewer than 5% of the women were obese and there were numerous factors contributing to infertility – including male infertility.

Another study in the same journal issue highlights the lasting impact of low vitamin d status during pregnancy on child development. 1,020 mother-child dyads of the 1,503 women enrolled in the Conditions Affecting Neurocognitive Development and Learning in Earlychild Study (CANDLE) had complete data records. In this racially diverse population, maternal vitamin D concentrations during the second trimester were significantly associated with higher scaled scores for receptive language in offspring at 2y, after controlling for socioeconomic status, race, maternal use of tobacco products, gestational age of the child at birth, and age at the 2-year assessment.

Vitamins are not only essential for metabolism, conception requires viable sperm and eggs and then to support the growth and development of a fertilized egg to a healthy baby. For those wanting to have children, these studies show the importance of having 25(OH)D3 concentrations assayed for a healthy pregnancy and infant language development.

Main Citations

Pagliardini L, Vigano P, Molgora M, Persico P, Salonia A, Vailati SH, Paffoni A, Somigliana E, Papaleo E, Candiani M. High prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Infertile women referring for assisted reproduction. 2015 Nutrients doi: 10.3390/nu7125516

Tylavsky FA, Kocak M, Murphy LE, Graff JC, Palmer FB, Volgyi E, Diaz-Thomas AM, Ferry RJ. Gestational vitamin 25(OH)D status as a risk factor for receptive language development: A 24-month, longitudinal, observational study. 2015 Nutrients doi: 10.3390/nu7125499

Other Citations

Shamim AA, Schulze K, Merrill RD, Kabir A, Christian P, Shaikh S, Wu L, Ali H, Labrique AB, Mehra S, Klemm RDW, Rashid M, Sungpuag P, Udomkesmalee E, West Jr KP. First trimester plasma tocopherols are associated with risk of miscarriage in rural Bangladesh. 2014 Am J Clin Nutr doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.094920

McBurney MI, Yu EA, Ciappio ED, Bird JK, Eggersdorfer M, Mehta S. Suboptimal serum α-tocopherol concentrations observed among younger adults and those depending exclusively upon food sources, NHANES 2003-2006. 2015 PLoS ONE doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0135510