Vitamin D And Male Sexual Health
Vitamin D is one of the most well-known micronutrients when it comes to bone strength and joint integrity, but very few people know that this vital agent also plays a major role in the maintenance of male sexual and reproductive health. According to a new study reported in the Human Reproduction journal (1), investigators suggested that males with severe and chronic deficiency of vitamin D are at high risk of developing infertility.
Pathophysiology Of Vitamin D Deficiency And Impaired Reproductive Health In Men
Jensen and associates conducted a randomized clinical trial during 2011 to 2014 on 1427 infertile men to study the relationship between vitamin D levels and semen quality. After thorough investigation, the research team discovered that:
- In otherwise healthy men, this vitamin deficiency (serum levels of less than 25 nmol/l) is strongly linked to lower sperm motility.
- Compared to men with normal levels of this vitamin, number of motile sperms is 66% and 111% lower after 45 and 262 minutes respectively, suggesting a possible explanation of infertility in men.
- Vitamin D deficient men also have lower concentration of 15% lower sex hormone binding globulins (SHBG) compared to infertile men with normal Vitamin D levels (>75 nmol/l).
- The testosterone/estradiol ratio is 14% lower in vitamin D deficient males compared to men with normal levels of this vitamin.
Investigators explained that poor semen quality in this vitamin deficient males can be explained by the disturbances in calcium homeostasis. Another study suggested that adequate levels of this vitamin are needed for the metabolism of spermatozoa via expression of CYP24A1 and other enzymes.
Study conducted by Lee and associates further reinforced these findings. According to the cross-sectional survey published in the European Journal of Endocrinology (2), Lee reported the data from 3369 men (age-range 40–79 years) and discovered that hypogonadal men (men with sub-normal serum concentration of testosterone) have low serum levels of this vitamin. In other words, Vitamin D deficiency can significantly aggravate the risk of developing hypogonadism, which can adversely affect sexual as well as reproductive health.
According to another study reported in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (3), investigators suggested that vitamin D deficiency is associated with high serum levels of inflammatory cytokines such as C-reactive protein, IL-6 to IL-10 and several others. These inflammatory mediators suggests poor immunity, high vulnerability to develop infections and overall poor stamina to maintain quality sex life.
Who Is At Risk Of Developing Vitamin D Deficiency?
Deficiency of vitamin D is fairly high in the general population; however, investigators believes that since mild to moderate deficiency is asymptomatic, most cases are never detected it is imperative to keep in mind that regardless of the diagnostic protocols, vitamin D deficiency can significantly impact your reproductive and sexual health.
The prevalence of Vitamin D deficiency (≤30 ng/mL) is 64% in the general population (4). About 39% healthy and asymptomatic adults suffer from severe deficiency of vitamin D (serum levels of lower than 20 ng/mL). Study reported in the Endocrine Practice (4) journal suggested that African-American and Asian men are at highest risk of developing vitamin D deficiency which may or may not be symptomatic.
It is always a good idea to investigate vitamin D deficiency in males presenting with unexplained infertility. Healthcare providers also believe that multivitamin supplements are extremely helpful at minimizing the risk of developing deficiency of this vitamin in adult men.
1. Jensen, M. B., Lawaetz, J. G., Andersson, A. M., Petersen, J. H., Nordkap, L., Bang, A. K., … & Boujida, V. H. (2016). VitaminD deficiency and low ionized calcium are linked with semen quality and sex steroid levels in infertile men. Human Reproduction, dew152.
2. Lee, D. M., Tajar, A., Pye, S. R., Boonen, S., Vanderschueren, D., Bouillon, R., … & Forti, G. (2012). Association of hypogonadism with vitamin status: the European Male Ageing Study. European Journal of Endocrinology, 166(1), 77-85.
3. Laird, E., McNulty, H., Ward, M., Hoey, L., McSorley, E., Wallace, J. M. W., … & Cunningham, C. (2014). VitaminD deficiency is associated with inflammation in older Irish adults. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 99(5), 1807-1815.
4. Mitchell, D., Henao, M., Finkelstein, J., & Burnett-Bowie, S. A. (2012). Prevalence and predictors of vitaminD deficiency in healthy adults. Endocrine Practice, 18(6), 914-923.