One test which often gets overlooked in preparation for pregnancy is Vitamin D. We have all heard the importance of adequate folic acid levels to prevent neural tube defects in the developing fetus and also the recommendation of taking a prenatal supplement. Has anyone ever told you to take a Vitamin D when planning to conceive?
Vitamin D tests are part of my fertility screen and pregnancy preparation. A 2015 study in Denmark has shown that women who had miscarriages in the first trimester often had lower Vitamin D levels than those women who did not miscarry.
In practice, I have routinely found approximately 95 percent of patients tested for their Vitamin D levels to be deficient. Oftentimes this also includes women who have been supplementing regularly for years! Many patients who request this test from their family doctors are often declined. Common responses are that the population is Vitamin D deficient so it would be good to begin taking a supplement. The concern I have with this advice is that it is not addressing individual needs. For example, a pregnant or breastfeeding mother is going to require a different dose than an elderly adult. My recommendation is to to screen all fertility and pregnant patients with this test. Once levels are determined, appropriate dosing can be prescribed.
Did you know that all Vitamin D supplements are not equal? There are liquid versions of Vitamin D and also those that contain K2, which is important for optimal bone health. Before self-prescribing, talk to your health care provider about the appropriate dose and supplement for you.
Pregnant already? Take your Vitamin D! A study in March 2016 from Harvard revealed that low Vitamin D during pregnancy increases the risk of Muliple Sclerosis development.
Currently, Vitamin D testing is no longer covered by OHIP. It is now a paid test with a fee around 40 dollars and well worth every penny. Talk to your Naturopathic Doctor, family or fertility doctor about incorporating this test for fertility screening.