Of late a lot has been spoken about the role of antioxidants and sperm numbers. Green tea was hyped up to the extent that my patients started filling their gym water bottles with green tea. The latest fad to hit the sperm based on some research is Vitamin D levels in blood. Just the other day I had ordered testing on a male patient of mine for infertility. He insisted that I include Vitamin D as one of the parameters. The results showed low sperm count and motility. His Vitamin D levels were low. He was demanding that I prescribe Vitamin D tablets.
Whats the deal with Vitamin D and Sperms?
Vitamin D in the human body is essential for calcium absorption. In sperms, Vitamin D binds to the receptor and increases calcium levels. Calcium in turn improves sperm motility. This was elucidated in a cross sectional study conducted by a Danish group in about 300 men from the general population. The study showed that men with low sperm motility had low Vit D levels and when Vit D was added to the samples the motility increased.
What does this tell us?
It is important to understand that this is a cross sectional study and if we need to find out whether Vit D is really useful, a randomized controlled trial needs to be conducted. Also this study does not tell us whether treating men with low Vitamin D actually increased conception rates. In the absence of this evidence we cannot conclusively say that it is useful in men with infertility and low sperm motility.
Add to all this the fact that Indians are chronically Vit D deprived. Most patients (men) i.e. even the ones with children have low levels of Vitamin D. Should Vit D be given to all of them? Well, I think the jury is still out and in my opinion it is better to be active and work out and improve your sperm counts naturally than to be dependent on Vitamin D supplements.