D-Lightful Effects – the link between Vitamin D and Sperm health
Over the last few years, the importance of Vitamin D to the human body has been brought to light, especially in relation to calcium and bone structure. However, it also has many other functions relating to secretion of hormones and cell produced substances, which affect multiple organs and systems. Did you know that this includes the male reproductive system?
The vitamin D receptor (VDR) is found in human skeletal muscle cells, where metabolism of muscle cells is affected by being bound to vitamin D metabolites. The VDR is distributed extensively in the male reproductive system. Vitamin D helps in the calcium and cholesterol content, as well as the regulation of proteins. These changes could assist in sperm capacitation (enabling sperm to fertilize an ovum).
Tests have shown the consistent effect of vitamin D on semen quality. It has been associated with sperm motility and is able to have action on spermatozoa, including maintaining stability of calcium in the epididymis which ensures proper sperm maturity and male fertility. It also activates molecular pathways required for sperm motility. The acrosome is a membraneous structure located on the tip of a spermatozoon which releases enzymes and allows fusion with the ovum. It is known as the acrosome reaction and VDR helps induce this reaction.
An analysis of sperm parameters has shown that sufficient vitamin D levels have resulted in improved sperm parameters – sperm count, morphology and motility. It has also been shown to decrease triglyceride (fat) content in sperm, which may increase the functional ability.
Earlier, clinical studies in humans felt that vitamin D seems to contribute to bioavailability (extent to which a substance becomes available to its intended destination) rather than total testosterone. However, as recently as March 2023, there is a claim that there really is a link between Vitamin D and testosterone https://www.greatgreenwall.org/supplements/does-vitamin-d-boost-testosterone/ The VDR acts as a messenger. It induces the cells in the testes to produce and release testosterone. If there is a long term vitamin D deficiency, the Leydig cells (which make testosterone) become less sensitive to making testosterone from other stimuli. So, even if the people are taking the right supplements, eating the right food and exercising, if the vitamin D level is not sufficient, they will not produce the right amount of testosterone.
A possible indirect effect of vitamin D is by regulating the estradiol concentration within the male reproductive organs. The concentration of estradiol is reported to be much much higher in the testes than in circulation. This suggests an important factor of estrogen in the reproductive function.
Further studies are required to regulate the concentration of vitamin D supplementation required to improve reproductive function. However, whether vitamin D is directly or indirectly involved in maintaining sperm vitality, it certainly is required to increase the potential of fertility.
At Andrology Centre, we provide not only the basic semen analysis test but a more specific DFI (sperm DNA fragmentation) test. We use the SCSA® (Sperm chromatin structure assay) method and are proud to state that we are the only authorised laboratory in India to carry out this authentic test. With our updated technology and top class equipment, accurate results are guaranteed. We provide standardised, clinically relevant reports. These are useful in assisting the fertility specialist to recommend the best treatment method.