Vitamin D Deficiency Increases Risk of Uterine Fibroids
Fibroids are associated with infertility, miscarriage, heavy bleeding, and pelvic pain. Treatment options have traditionally been limited to surgical intervention, but that is changing with new research on vitamin D supplementation.
Read: When is the best time to take vitamin D?
Uterine fibroids, also known as leiomyomas, are the most common benign (non-cancerous) tumor in women of reproductive age. They are linked to infertility and miscarriage, not to mention symptoms of heavy bleeding and pelvic pain.
Treatment options have traditionally been limited to surgical intervention, but that changed when new research emerged that vitamin D supplementation could reduce fibroid development.
The majority of women will get fibroids
About 50-80% of women will get fibroids in their lifetime. A population-based study in the US detected fibroids in 59% of black women and 43% of white women.
For women in their late 40s, the estimated fibroid frequency is >80% for black women and nearly 70% for white women. And they are three to four times more common in black women, who are also ten times more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency.
Do Vitamin D Supplements Stop Fibroids Growth?
A research study conducted to understand the effect of vitamin D on uterine fibroid growth was conducted in 2009 by Blauer et al.
The results showed that when uterine fibroid cells were obtained from women who had undergone a hysterectomy were treated with vitamin 25-hydroxyvitamin D3, the growth of uterine fibroids slowed.
In fact, higher concentrations of vitamin D led to greater inhibition of fibroid growth. In another study by Sharan et al., 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 was shown to inhibit the proliferation of perennial uterine fibroid cells.
A 2016 study by Ciavattini et al. studied 108 women who received vitamin D supplementation and had "small-burden" uterine fibroids.
Participants had fewer than 4 fibroids each, and each fibroid was less than 5 cm in diameter.
The study found that women who did not take vitamin D supplements experienced an average 40% growth in fibroid volume in one year of follow-up, whereas women who regularly took vitamin D supplements did not experience fibroid growth during the same time period.
A recent 2020 study by Arjeh et al analyzing the effects of vitamin D on uterine fibroids showed similar results.
Vitamin D-deficient women with fewer than 4 uterine fibroids (the largest less than 10 cm in diameter) who received weekly high doses of oral vitamin D saw stunted fibroid growth at the end of the 12-week study. Meanwhile, women who received a placebo experienced an increase in the volume of uterine fibroids.
Do Vitamin D Supplements Shrink Fibroids?
A 2019 research study conducted in Iran by Hajhashemi et al. showed that Vitamin D supplementation decreased uterine fibroid size.
Sixty-nine vitamin D-deficient participants with 1 to 2 uterine fibroids measuring 2 to 8 cm completed the study.
Participants were randomly assigned to receive doses of 50,000 IU vitamin D every 2 weeks for 10 weeks (35 women) or placebo tablets at equal frequency (34 women).
Uterine fibroid size was measured in all women before the start of the study and again 6 months afterward. The results showed that uterine fibroid size decreased significantly in the vitamin D group compared to the placebo group.
What Other Vitamins Help Shrink Fibroids?
There is also some medical science that points to the potential therapeutic effects of vitamin A. One study showed that women with a greater intake of fruit and vitamin A obtained from animal sources had a lower risk of developing uterine fibroids.
In another study, human uterine fibroid smooth muscle cells responded to treatment with a naturally occurring vitamin A derivative called all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA).
Increasing the dose of ATRA led to an increase in the anti-proliferative effect on fibroid cells. When proliferation is inhibited by ATRA, smooth muscle cell morphology changes also occur. The inhibition in proliferation and morphological changes was reversible when ATRA treatment was discontinued.
It is not clear whether Vitamin C and Vitamin E are good for uterine fibroids because they have not been studied much. Therefore, it is difficult to infer their beneficial effects, if any.
Is Vitamin D Good for Fibroids?
Vitamin D has been shown to help stop or reduce the growth of fibroids. It is not clear whether vitamin D can shrink fibroids in volume.
Can Vitamin D Help With Fibroids?
Some research suggests that vitamin D-deficient women with existing uterine fibroids who take oral vitamin D supplementation inhibit fibroid growth. Although promising, these results are not conclusive. Always consult your doctor before adding any new supplements or vitamins to your diet.
Does Low Vitamin D Cause Fibroids?
Low levels of vitamin D are associated with the presence of uterine fibroids, however, many other factors contribute to the development of uterine fibroids.
How Much Vitamin D Should You Take to Shrink Fibroids?
7,000 international units (IU) of oral vitamin D per day or 50,000 IU/week can help treat vitamin D deficiency, which can help inhibit fibroid growth. Always consult your doctor before adding any new supplements or vitamins to your diet.