OMBE Integrative Health Center
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Jessica L. Molleur is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California.  She currently maintains a private acupuncture practice in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood, which was awarded Best Acupuncture Center by Boston Magazine. Areas of specialty include women's health, pregnancy, infertility, pediatrics, and sports medicine. Jessica also serves as a health care consultant for integrative medical institutes, infertility centers, and green spas.

Prior to her consulting work, Jessica founded an integrative health center in Boston. The eco-friendly center was one of the first twenty-five companies certified as a Sustainable Business Leader in Boston. The center was the recipient of several awards, including Mayor Menino's Green Business Award, a multiple recipient of Boston Business Journal's Best Workplace, Boston Magazine's Best of Boston Award for Massage Therapy as well as Best Acupuncturists in Boston, Best Eco-Friendly Massage, Eco-Beauty Bar, Nutritionist, Personal Trainer, Pilates, and Workout.

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Fertility & Vitamin D Supplementation

From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO...

Many patients ask me about vitamin supplementation and potential benefits for overall health and fertility. During this time of year, patients ask whether it is better to go without sunscreen to get a healthy dose of morning sun exposure as well as Vitamin D.  Other frequently asked questions include: Should I get my levels tested? What is considered a normal value? How much should I supplement and for how long? Is Vitamin D important for fertility? I've discussed the importance of Vitamin D previously this year, but I thought it would be helpful to discuss in today’s blog again, the importance of Vitamin D and how it relates to general health and fertility to answer some of those FAQs.

Over the last decade, researchers and medical practitioners have become aware that Vitamin D deficiency has become prevalent across all racial groups in the United Sates. According to research, the rates of Vitamin D deficiency nearly doubled from 1994 to 2004. Additionally, almost 40% of women in their reproductive years were found to have Vitamin D deficiencies.

Most of us are aware of Vitamin D’s important role in the body to help keep bones healthy and strong via calcium absorption. Many experts in this field would say that a more accurate statement would be that appropriate ratios of Vitamin D, Vitamin A and Vitamin K2 are important for developing strong bone structure. The interplay of these three fat-soluble vitamins is a subject too lengthy for this blog but we’ll cover it another day!

Vitamin D is actually not a vitamin-it’s a hormone with the ability to affect many different types of cells and organs in the body by turning genes “on and off”. We now know through recent research that Vitamin D plays an important role in preventing disease such as diabetes, autoimmune disorders, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other diseases related to the immune system. Low Vitamin D levels have also been associated with a 30 to 50 percent increased risk of colon, prostate, and breast cancer. We also now know through research that Vitamin D even plays an important role in weight management.

In reproductive research, Vitamin D has been shown (via mice studies) to be connected to uterine underdevelopment and the inability to form normal, mature eggs. Additionally, Vitamin D deficiency was found to be related to fetal underdevelopment when pregnancy was achieved. All of the above reproductive disorders normalized (in mice) with Vitamin D supplementation.

In women, the Vitamin D receptor is present in many female organs, including the ovary, uterus, and placenta. The active form of vitamin D (calcitriol) has many roles during female reproduction. Bound to its receptor, calcitriol is able to control genes involved in embryo implantation. Once a woman becomes pregnant, the uterus and placenta continue to make calcitriol, which helps fight infections. Poor vitamin D status has been associated with preganancy risks including gestational hypertension and diabetes.

Two recent studies found that women undergoing IVF were significantly more likely to achieve pregnancy than those who were deficient in Vitamin D. In one of these studies, performed at an IVF center, there was a four-fold increase in pregnancy rates. Another study showed that women receiving donor eggs were also more likely to achieve pregnancy suggesting that Vitamin D’s most important role may be in the uterus.

These initial studies in regards to Vitamin D are encouraging both for those trying to conceive naturally, improving their overall health, as well as those looking to achieve pregnancy through IVF. Next time you visit your PCP, OBGYN, or endocrinologist, ask to have your Vitamin D levels evaluated. Although levels of 32 ng/mL are considered to be normal, levels in the range of 50-80ng/mL are those found in research to be optimal for immune system function and protective for the diseases mentioned above including breast, prostate, and colon cancer.

How much should you supplement? Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin so you should supplement for a period of 6-12 weeks and have your levels retested to adjust supplementation accordingly. Typically, 2000 IUs daily are recommended to increase blood serum levels. However, many practitioners recommend higher dosages up to 10,000 IUs daily depending on your level of deficiency. In other words, you should discuss the supplementation level with your practitioner and then retest to see the impact on your levels. In the meantime, try to get some sun exposure for a natural Vitamin D boost as the temperatures warm up in New England! Below are the resources for human studies and current Vitamin D research.

Have more questions about Vitamin D or acupuncture?  Schedule a complimentary consult to learn more about how Vitamin D or acupuncture can benefit your health this year.  Email jlmolleur@ombecenter.com for more details.

REFERENCES

Vigano P, Lattuada D, Mangioni S, Ermellino L, Vignali M, Caporizzo E, Panina-Bordignon P, Besozzi M, DiBlasio AM. Cycling and early pregnant endometrium as a site of regulated expression of the vitamin D system. J Mol Endocrinol, 2006;36(3):415-24.

Vigano P, Lattuada D, Mangioni S, Ermellino L, Vignali M, Caporizzo E, Panina-Bordignon P, Besozzi M, DiBlasio AM. Cycling and early pregnant endometrium as a site of regulated expression of the vitamin D system. J Mol Endocrinol, 2006;36(3):415-24.

Bodnar LM, Catov JM, Simhan HN, Holick MF, Powers RW, Roberts JM. Maternal vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of preeclampsia. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 2007;92(9):3517-22.

Ozkan S, Jindal S, Greenseid K, Shu J, Zeitlian G, Hickmon C, Pal L. Replete vitamin D stores predict reproductive success following in vitro fertilization. Fertility and Sterility, 2010;94(4):1314-9.

Rudick B, Ingles SA, Stanczyk F, Chung K, Paulson R, Bendikson K. Characterizing the role of vitamin D levels on IVF outcomes: stimulation, embryo, or endometrium? O-245, Annual Meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, 2010.

Rudick B, Ingles SA, Stanczyk F, Chung K, Paulson R, Bendikson K. The role of vitamin D levels on IVF outcomes in donor-recipient cycles. O-9, Annual Meeting of the Pacific Coast Reproductive Society, 2011.

Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO

Jessica L. Molleur is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She first became interested in acupuncture as a soccer player searching for an alternative to knee surgery and discovered the many benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of California at Davis and a Master of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. Jessica is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine and Chinese Herbology through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). She is also a Diplomate of Acupuncture Orthopedics, a specialty certification held by fewer than 500 acupuncturists in the United States.

Jessica currently maintains a private acupuncture practice in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood, which was awarded Best Acupuncture Center by Boston Magazine. Areas of specialty include women's health, pregnancy, infertility, pediatrics, and sports medicine. If you are interested in learning about the benefits of acupuncture for fertility and IVF, please visit the acupuncture + fertility page. New patients can book online to schedule any acupuncture service including a complimentary consult. Jessica also serves as a health care consultant for a number of integrative medical institutes. Her clients include IVF and infertility centers, functional medicine offices, orthopedic facilities, concierge practices, and green spas. Please contact OMBE for more information about these services.

Prior to her consulting work, Jessica founded an integrative health center in Boston. The eco-friendly center was one of the first twenty-five companies certified as a Sustainable Business Leader in Boston. During its ten-year tenure, the center provided services including acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, naturopathy, nutritional counseling, personal training, Pilates, and yoga. Studio offerings included mom and baby programming, Mongan Method Hypnobirthing, natural childbirth education and the Holistic Moms Network. The center was the recipient of several awards, including Mayor Menino's Green Business Award, a multiple recipient of Boston Business Journal's Best Workplace, Boston Magazine's Best of Boston Award for Massage Therapy as well as Best Eco-Friendly Massage, Eco-Beauty Bar, Nutritionist, Personal Trainer, Pilates, and Workout.