Vitamin D for Conception and Covid-19

If your two goals in 2021 are to get pregnant and avoid the complications of COVID-19, one of the best things you can do for your health is make sure that your Vitamin D levels are up to scratch.

Vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin” is an incredibly important nutrient for both male and female fertility. Even if you’re not trying for a baby, Vitamin D is essential, and having low levels of it can make you feel ill and lethargic. It’s thought that around 80% of people hospitalised with COVID-19 are lacking this nutrient, although experts are not entirely sure why. 

Certain studies have linked good levels of vitamin D with higher IVF success rates and even live birth rates, as well as more success with conception in the traditional way.

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Some Vitamin D is absorbed from sunlight, but it’s unlikely that most people can get 100% of their recommended dose this way. Even if you’re an outdoorsy sort, you might not have enough of your skin exposed to get a high enough dose, particularly in winter. People with darker skin absorb vitamin D less well, and those with paler skin are even more at risk of sun damage and skin cancer from prolonged sun exposure, so it’s safest for everyone to aim to get enough Vitamin D from their diet alone.

Get tested

Not getting pregnant? Feeling lethargic? Ask your doctor for a Vitamin D test. Low levels are associated with poor sperm quality and a lower embryo implantation rate. If you’re low then your doctor will prescribe supplements. It can take between 60 and 90 days for a low Vitamin D count to be replenished, so from a fertility point of view, the sooner this is taken care of the better. Don’t forget to book in for your smear/pap test always better top be on top of any health issues. 

Going plant-based?

The first foods you’ll find recommended for Vitamin D are oily fish and egg yolks, but if you’re plant-based or vegan that isn’t much help! The only good, natural source of Vitamin D is mushrooms, but when it comes to this special vitamin, not all fungi are created equally. Mushrooms absorb it from the sun in a similar way to humans, so wild mushrooms are a far better source than commercial mushrooms, which are often grown in the dark. You can leave your supermarket mushrooms on the windowsill for a day or two, and some mushrooms are treated with UV light to up their D levels. If you’re plant-based or vegan though, it’s wise to consider some type of supplement such as a daily spray.

Fortified foods

For both vegans and omnivores, foods fortified with Vitamin D can keep your levels topped up. Many types of plant milk, some orange juices and cereals are fortified with vitamin D.

The bottom line

Vitamin D is an essential fertility nutrient for both men and women. Many people are deficient, and it’s impossible to tell unless you have a test. Try to include more than one source of Vitamin D in your day if possible.