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Vitamin D: Good For Pregnancy?

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Vitamin D is thought to be good for the bones, and good for the heart.

"We're just on the cusp of learning about some of the non-bone related aspects of vitamin D physiology," Dr. Bryan Hecht, a reproductive endocrinologist at West Penn Hospital.

Could it also be good for pregnancy?

"There's animal evidence that vitamin D deficiency affects fertility, so it was logical to begin to look at it in humans," explains Dr, Hecht.

A small study from Italy shows that women with vitamin D levels in the normal range were twice as likely to get pregnant with in vitro fertilization, where an egg and sperm are joined outside the body and the resulting embryo reinserted for pregnancy.

"It may involve in some way the relationship between the embryo, and the uterine lining, and the implantation process," he says.

Vitamin D comes from exposure to sunlight -- also things you eat, like milk, yogurt, eggs, tuna, salmon and orange juice.

A level below 20 nanograms per milliliter is considered low.

But getting more vitamin D doesn't necessarily mean you'll get pregnant more easily.

"We know that vitamin D deficiency is thought to be very prevalent today, but we're not seeing dramatic increases in infertility. So while it might potentially have some impact on an IVF procedure, or IVF outcome, it's hard to know whether or not that translates into any impact on reproduction in general," Dr. Hecht points out.

More than 1 percent of babies born in the United States are with the help of in vitro fertilization and other assisted reproductive techniques. More study is needed to see if adequate vitamin D levels would help a couple get pregnant before going on to IVF.

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