Women who are prone to uterine fibroids a have good reason for keeping their vitamin D levels stellar. A 2011 study has shown that fibroids have a particular sensitivity to vitamin D and fibroid growth may be inhibited when levels of the sunshine vitamin are stellar.
Researchers bathed human fibroid cells in vitamin D3 and measured the rate of cell proliferation and discovered that vitamin D significantly slowed the growth rate of fibroid cells. The researchers stated that:
"Our findings suggest that vitamin D deficiency may be an important risk factor in growth and progression of uterine fibroids."
A further study from the National Institutes of Health, published in Epidemiology 2013, discovered that women with sufficient vitamin D levels were 32 percent less likely to develop fibroids when compared to women with vitamin D deficiency. This study of 1,036 women, aged 35-49, assessed vitamin D levels in blood samples and screened for uterine fibroids using ultrasound. Women with vitamin D levels above 20 nanograms per milliliter of 25-hydroxy D were categorized as having sufficient vitamin D levels even though most reference ranges in common use regard vitamin D levels below 30 ng/ml as clinically deficient.
This study also assessed how much time women spent outside daily and demonstrated that sun exposure can be a determining factor in fibroid development. The women in this study lived in the Washington DC area and those who reported spending over one hour per day outdoors averaged a 40% decreased risk of uterine fibroids.
Fibroids, also known as uterine leiomyomata, are noncancerous tumors of the uterus. Fibroids often result in pain and bleeding in premenopausal women, and are the leading cause of hysterectomy in the United States.
Uterine fibroids are estimated to occur in 20-25% of women of child-bearing age and can interfere with fertility depending upon the size and placement of the fibroid; fibroids are more likely to interfere with fertility if they protrude into the uterus at key implantation sites.
Interestingly African American women are especially prone to uterine fibroids and are also very susceptible to vitamin D deficiency. African American women have higher levels of melanin in their skin which reduces the amount of vitamin D3 they produce from sunlight exposure. This makes it doubly important for African American women get their vitamin D levels checked and optimized. African American women also tend to have lower levels of the enzyme lactase responsible for digesting dairy foods and may tend to reduce their dietary vitamin D intake. Women who cover their bodies for religious reasons are also at risk because so little skin is exposed to the sun
Vitamin D is know to be deficient in many women and a number of studies have indicated that vitamin D deficiency adversely effects IVF success and cause infertility. If you have a tendency to produce uterine fibroids ask your physician to check your vitamin D3 levels at your next visit. If you are prone to fibroids, restoring adequate vitamin D levels may be helpful for preserving fertility and reducing the need for fibroid surgery.
There is considerable controversy regarding what an ideal level of vitamin D3, in part this is because the reference range for vitamin D is extremely wide. Many experts feel that for optimum health and fertility vitamin D should be in the middle of the reference range rather that the lower part. Low/normal may not be optimal.
This article is purely for educational and informational purposes and is not intended to substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment for which you should consult a physician.
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(1) Fertility And Sterility Vol 95, Issue 1 January 2011, Pages 247-253 Vitamin D inhibits proliferation of human uterine leiomyoma cells via catechol-O-methyltransferase
Chakradhari Sharan Ph.D.a, Sunil K. Halder Ph.D.a, Chandrasekhar Thota Ph.D.a, Tarannum Jaleela, Sangeeta Nair D.V.M., M.Sc.a and Ayman Al-Hendy M.D., Ph.D., a,
(2)(2) Baird DD, Hill MC, Schectman JM, Hollis BW. Vitamin D and the risk of uterine fibroids. Epidemiology, 2013