Couples trying for a baby should take a sunshine break as researchers say vitamin D can improve fertility
Sunlight boosts fertility, according to new research that claims vitamin D can balance sex hormones in women and improve sperm count in men.
The findings suggest some couples could be undergoing unnecessary and costly fertility treatments when spending time in the sunshine could be more beneficial.
‘People could either spend more time outside in the sun – or take vitamin D supplements, which are a safe and cheap way to increase levels,’ says lead author Dr Elisabeth Lerchbaum.
The researchers at the Medical University of Graz in Austria found that women ovulate less and their eggs have a reduced chance of implanting in the womb in the winter months.
Although vitamin D can be obtained in small quantities through oily fish, eggs and liver, 80 per cent of our bodily needs are obtained via a chemical process that happens when UVB rays are absorbed by the skin.
‘The vast majority of people in this country – around 86 per cent – are getting less than the optimum levels,’ says Oliver Gillie, director of the Health Research Forum.
Leading fertility expert, Zita West, agrees. ‘Vitamin D is becoming increasingly important for fertility,’ she says. ‘Having done over 800 vitamin D tests, we have found that around 70 per cen of our clients are deficient. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to obesity, poly cystic ovaries and immune disorders.’
Mr Gullie advises couples trying to get pregant arrange a sunshine holiday or spend time in the garden this summer before going down the expensive route of IVF.