Fertility and Fish Oil
By Annette K. Scott
At Christmas time last year, my cousin told me she wanted to get pregnant and she wondered what she should be doing to optimize her fertility. She also wanted to know, once pregnant, what to do to have a vibrant pregnancy as well as a super healthy baby. Sadly, it has taken me months to get an answer together.
But happily, I was surprised to find that the answer isn’t as complicated as her question. In fact, in order for her to move toward greater fertility that would result in a robust pregnancy and a robustly healthy start to the baby’s life she needs to prioritize doing one thing first.
She must get her vitamin D levels up to snuff! I have been a champion of vitamin D for a number of years now but I had no idea how important it is for fertility, pregnancy and childbearing.
Multiple studies have already been done (and many more are being done as we speak) on the multitude of roles vitamin D (which is not a vitamin at all, but a hormone) plays in our health. A short list of its impacts on our health would include immunity, bone health, blood regulation, regulating cell growth (and thereby controlling or combating the development of cancer), the development of insulin resistance and diabetes, fatigue, depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), low fertility, autoimmune disorders as well as the control of inflammation amongst many other elements.
Specific studies regarding the role of vitamin D during pregnancy have found that a deficiency of vitamin D during pregnancy can cause growth retardation and skeletal deformities and it may also have an impact on birth weight. Researchers are finding that if you’re lacking vitamin D during pregnancy, your baby will be (and this seems like a logical conclusion) vitamin D deficient at birth. This can put the baby at risk for rickets (which can lead to fractures and deformity), abnormal bone growth, and delayed physical development.
And what’s more, the results of the deficiency can be long lasting — Carol L. Wagner, MD, neonatologist and pediatric researcher at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston released a 2010 study that found that a vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy can affect bone development and immune function from birth through adulthood. And, here’s the interesting part, not only can it not be fully corrected with supplementation after birth but the effects may not be fully seen for 30 years.
Multiple other studies have found that a deficiency of vitamin D can also be linked to a greater risk of pregnancy complications, among them preeclampsia, and a higher likelihood of an expectant mom needing a c-section.
If you want a more complete list of the aspects of pregnancy that are affected by vitamin D, I suggest visiting the website, www.vitamindcouncil.org.
So now that we’ve established that this “vitamin” is something to pay attention to…where can you get it? In good conscience I can only suggest supplementing with Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver oil (FCLO) as they are the only fish oil producers in the market that don’t process or heat the oil and therefore, theirs is the only product that actually passes on an intact, bio-available form of vitamin D.
They have a number of “flavors” to try (yes, this a fish oil and yes, it’s fermented and yes, it is something you are going to have to find what flavor works best for you because despite its huge health benefit it still is a fermented fish oil) so visit their website to do a little reading and start your odyssey of health.
With all that said about what supplement to use the question that naturally follows is, “How much do I need?” Sadly, it is believed that a vast majority of Americans are grossly vitamin D deficient. Here are some of the most current dosage recommendations:
Vitamin D Dose Recommendations
Below 5 35 units per pound per day
Age 5 – 10 2500 units
Adults 5000 units
Pregnant Women 5000 units
Note that the above recommendations are considered maintenance doses. The ONLY way to know what you actually need to be taking as a dose is to test your blood. You might need 4-5 times the amount recommended above. Ideally your blood level of 25 OH D should be 60ng/ml.
So if you want to find out what your current vitamin D blood level is you can order a pin prick test kit: http://www.zrtlab.com/vitamindcouncil/ or you can ask your doctor to do a test for you.
Also, remember that our body actually creates vitamin D when we are in the sun but you need extended daily doses of the sun without the impediment of sunscreen/block and so supplementation and/or consumption of concentrated food sources are probably still a necessary part of your nutrition.
Happily (for me), one of the very best places to get vitamin D naturally is in fish roe. I suggest reading Sarah Pope’s, Tampa’s Weston A. Price’s chapter leader, blog on the benefits of fish roe. It can be found on her site at http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/2011/05/fish-eggs-a-superior-vitamin-d-boost/
I might suggest also reading her other articles on vitamin D if your want to continue to marvel at it’s amazing properties.
Now, before signing off, it must be said that while getting your vitamin D levels up is clearly of great importance and would be number 1 on my list for prepping the body for a baby, it is hardly the only thing on the list. Those, however, are a topic for another blog!!! Thanks as always for reading.
For more information visit, www.annettekscott.com
(Image credit: Hans-Petter Fjeld)