I am back from a busy week in Vancouver, where I attended the Integrative Fertility Symposium. The Integrative Fertility Symposium brings together health practitioners from many different disciplines including: medical doctors, naturopathic doctors, Chinese medicine practitioners, acupuncturists and nutritionists. I learned many new acupuncture techniques that I will be bringing back to my patients and my practice. In my next few blog posts I will be summarizing the most interesting talks I attended for your learning pleasure!
1) Vitamin D
Vitamin D has been one of the most talked about vitamins of recent years, but did you know that Vitamin D isn’t really a vitamin at all? It is actually a hormone. We are able to synthesize Vitamin D in our skin. With true vitamins, we are not able to make them, we have to get them via food.
Vitamin D is critical in the preconception time period (3-4 months, prior to conception), as well as during pregnancy and breastfeeding. All cells in the body have a Vitamin D receptor. We are uncovering new information about the importance of Vitamin D every day. Fatty fish is the best food source of Vitamin D, however, you would have to eat 1/2lb of fish every day to reach sufficient levels.
65-70% of women in the USA are deficient in Vitamin D. The number are likely even higher in Canada. In Canada, we are not able to synthesize Vitamin D in our skin from October to May, due to the angle of the sun. This means that Canadians, especially those trying to conceive, should be considering Vitamin D supplementation during the winter months.
During pregnancy, Vitamin D helps to reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia, bacterial vaginosis, gestational diabetes and pre-term delivery.
Postpartum, sufficient levels of Vitamin D can help reduce the risk of Postpartum Depression.
You can ask your doctor or naturopathic doctor to test your levels of Vitamin D (it is not covered by OHIP, unless you have certain medical conditions). This blood work should be part of all moms preconception work up.
Inositol is a well researched “B vitamin like” substance that can help with insulin sensitivity in the body. Insulin resistance is a major issue for people suffering from conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and type 2 diabetes. PCOS is a common cause of infertility in women. Women with PCOS often do not ovulate regularly, have problems with insulin sensitivity, can have cysts on their ovaries, suffer from acne and hair growth on their face and body.
The average women gets 1g/day of inositol from their diet. The therapeutic dose of inositol is 4g/day. You have to be patient with inositol, as it takes 3-6 months to be effective. It helps improve ovarian function, helps reduce BMI and reduces the risk of gestational diabetes.
3) Coenzyme Q10
Is a substance that helps convert food into energy. The process of cell division in the ovary is a process that takes a lot of energy! CoQ10 levels decrease with age, leading to a decrease in available energy for proper cell division within the egg. I suggest CoQ10 supplementation in women over the age of 35 who are trying to conceive. With CoQ10 supplementation, it if important to not take it in a tablet, but in a capsule that is oil filled, as this greatly helps with absorption. Current research suggests that the amount of CoQ10 that should be supplemented is 600 mg/day.
I hope you found this blog post helpful! Next week, I will cover what I learned about ovulation disorders.
Dr Alexis practices in Kanata and is currently accepting new patients. To schedule your appointment, click here