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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


Nutrition: Helping Young Families Grow while being Penny Wise

By Michael McBurney

Happy New Year! January is a season of looking forward, making resolutions, and planning for success.  It is amazing that a single event, a day on the calendar – January 1, elicits so much emotion.

I also have wonderful news to share: my nephew and wife have just announced the birth of Adele. Unfortunately, many couples have difficulty conceiving. Approximately 6% of married women 15-44y of age report being unable to become pregnant after 12 months of regular unprotected intercourse with the same partner. In frustration, they seek fertility treatment.

The likelihood of having a baby increases with each ‘assisted’ ovarian stimulation cycle but the emotional stress of repeated treatments cannot be underestimated. Nor can the financial considerations. Smith and colleagues estimate that a frozen embryo transfer costs $4-5,000 and a couple living in the UK may spend up to $132,000 to conceive a child.

There may be a silver lining that can change the frustrations of infertility and treatment costs. Preconception nutrition affects fertility. Emerging evidence suggests that increasing polyunsaturated fatty acid status improves pregnancy rates among women undergoing fertility treatments.

Healthy women seeking in vitro fertilization with higher vitamin D concentrations are more likely to become pregnant than those suboptimal serum 25(OH)D concentrations (< 50 nmol/L). Among women visiting a fertility clinic, lower vitamin D concentrations were associated with increased risk of endometriosis.

Shamim and colleagues found low blood vitamin E concentrations to be associated with increased risk of miscarriage among Bangladeshi women. In the United States, women between the ages of 15-44 often have low Vitamin E concentrations in blood.

Isn’t it a shame when dietary choices, or the lack of using a multivitamin supplement, may contribute to emotional and financial stress facing young couples? In 2016, as we reflect on our past and future, let’s commit to ending malnutrition. For young couples starting a family, it may be particularly important that they consume recommended amounts of vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids.

Main Citations

Myers ER. Repeated in vitro fertilization cycles for infertility. 2015 JAMA doi: 10.1001/jama.2015.17297

Smith DAC, Tilling K, Nelson SM, Lawlor DA. Live-birth rate associated with repeat in vitro fertilization treatment cycles. 2015 JAMA doi: 10.1001/jama.2015.17296

Other Citations

Moran LJ, Tsagareli V, Noakes M, Norman R. Altered preconception fatty acid intake is associated with improved pregnancy rates in overweight and obese women undertaking in vitro fertilization. 2015 Nutrients doi: 10.3390/nu8010010

Paffoni A, Ferrari S, Vigano P, Pagliardini L, Papaleo E, Candiani M, Tirelli A, Fedele L, Somigliana E. Vitamin D deficiency and infertility: Insights from in vitro fertilization cycles. 2014 J Clin Endocrinol Med doi:10.1210/jc.2014.1802

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