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Last modified on August 25th, 2020
Can vitamin D shrink fibroids? This is a common question and it’s an important one because many women suffer from fibroids. Vitamin D is also being assessed as almost a miracle vitamin in the many ways it can improve your health, but similarly in people who are deficient it can have severe health outcomes. For example, there are some links between vitamin D deficiency and more serious cases of COVID-19.
We set out to explore the answer to the question, “can vitamin D shrink fibroids.”
What Are Fibroids?
Before answering if vitamin D can shrink fibroids, it’s important to have an understanding of what this condition is.
Fibroids are tissues that are made up of both fibrous connective tissue and smooth muscle cells, and they’re located in the uterus. An estimated 70 to 80% of women develop fibroids throughout their lifetime, but in many cases, they may require no treatment or not exhibit any symptoms.
Fibroids are nearly always noncancerous or benign, although some fibroids begin as cancer. Benign fibroids can’t, however, become cancer.
It’s pretty rare to see a situation where there’s a cancerous fibroid, and that’s one reason they’re not always treated.
The size of a fibroid can range from small (the size of a pea) to much larger, and it’s possible to have more than one at the same time.
How Are Fibroids Diagnosed?
There are a wide variety of ways to diagnose fibroids. Most are discovered during pelvic exams. If you experience symptoms of a uterine fibroid, your doctor may perform tests like:
- Ultrasounds can take a picture of your uterus to diagnose a fibroid or fibroids and to measure them
- Lab tests may include a complete blood count to determine if you have anemia because of blood loss
- An MRI can show potential fibroids in even more detail
- A hystersonography uses saline to expand your uterine cavity and make it easier to get images of fibroids in the lining of your uterus if you’re experiencing heavy bleeding during your period
- Hysterosalpingography uses dye to show your uterine cavity and fallopian tubes on an X-ray image
What Are the Symptoms of Fibroids?
Some of the most common signs and symptoms of fibroids include:
- Heavy periods
- Periods that last more than a week
- Pain or pressure in the pelvic area
- Frequent urination
- Problems emptying the bladder
- Leg pain
You should see a doctor if you experience pelvic pain that won’t go away, or long, heavy periods. You should also speak to your doctor if you have bleeding or spotting between your periods, or an unexplained low red blood cell count.
What Causes Fibroids?
Doctors aren’t entirely sure of the exact causes of fibroids, but they do believe certain factors may increase the likelihood of developing them.
Genetic changes are one reason, as are hormones. Fibroids have more estrogen and progesterone receptors than typical uterine muscles. That may be why after menopause, fibroids tend to get smaller or disappear—there’s a decrease in hormone production.
Certain risk factors can include race, and black women are more likely than women of other races to get fibroids. Black women are also more likely to have larger fibroids with worse symptoms.
Heredity can play a role, and if you have a mother or sister with fibroids, you may be at an increased risk.
Starting menstruation at an early age is linked to a greater likelihood of developing fibroids, so is obesity, drinking alcohol, and having a diet without a lot of green vegetables.
Finally, another fibroid risk factor is a vitamin D deficiency, leading many to wonder, can vitamin D shrink fibroids?
What to Know About Vitamin D and Fibroids
This brings us back to our original question—can vitamin D shrink fibroids?
Here’s what the research says.
Recent research from three independent research groups in US populations as well as populations in central Europe and North Africa found links between serum vitamin D deficiency and an increased risk of fibroids.
The first group to report on this was the Al-Hendy group. They looked at links between low vitamin D levels and being susceptible to uterine fibroids in a group of white and black women in North Africa.
Researchers have found that vitamin D3 inhibits the proliferation of uterine fibroid cells. This has been demonstrated in both animal and in vitro studies.
It’s an interesting area of research because black women are three to four times more likely to have fibroids, and they are also ten times more likely to be vitamin D deficient than white women.
Louis De Paolo, Chief of Reproductive Sciences at the NIH Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found that study results on vitamin D and fibroids are promising as a way to identify non-surgical fibroid treatments that won’t affect fertility.
These specific findings were published in the Biology of Reproduction journal.
The study used rats predisposed to the development of fibroids. Six rats with fibroids were given three weeks of vitamin D injections. Six others without tumors weren’t treated. Fibroids grew in the rats not treated with vitamin D and shrunk by 75% in rats treated with vitamin D.
The dose used in this particular study was the equivalent of a human dose of 1400 IU (international units). Up to 4000 IU of vitamin D is considered safe daily.
The Importance of Vitamin D
So can vitamin D shrink fibroids? The evidence suggests that it may, and there are many other reasons that vitamin D is essential for your health, and yet many people are deficient, particularly in the African-American community.
Vitamin D works to ensure you have the right balance of calcium and phosphorous in your blood, and these minerals play a pivotal role in strengthening your bones.
Vitamin D is important in many other ways, as well.
- Vitamin D helps your body absorb the calcium you consume.
- Vitamin D works with your parathyroid glands so they properly communicate with your gut, kidneys, and skeleton.
- Vitamin D can reduce the risk of certain cancers including breast, colon, and prostate cancers.
- There is evidence vitamin D can reduce the risk of diabetes.
- Having adequate vitamin D may help protect against cardiovascular disease.
- Vitamin D intake can reduce the risk of multiple sclerosis.
- Vitamin D can improve your mood.
Vitamin D also plays a critical role in immune system function and mental health. For example, there are vitamin D receptors in the areas of the brain that are linked with depression.
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased susceptibility to infections and increased autoimmune activity, and many of the most common autoimmune disorders.
Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency
Certain medical conditions can put you at a greater risk of vitamin D deficiency such as celiac disease and Crohn’s disease. In these situations your intestines can absorb enough vitamin D.
Weight loss surgeries, obesity, and kidney and liver diseases may also be related to vitamin D deficiency.
The older you are, the less ability your skin has to make vitamin D, and people with dark-colored skin are less able to make vitamin D than people with fair skin.
Certain medications may cause vitamin D deficiency such as laxatives, steroids like prednisone, and drugs that control seizures.
Signs of vitamin D deficiency can include:
- Depression and mood changes
- Muscle cramps, aches or weakness
- Bone pain
Doctors can measure your vitamin D levels, and usually, if you have a level below 30ng/mL, it’s considered a deficiency.
85% of women diagnosed with fibroids had a significant vitamin D deficiency compared to women not diagnosed with fibroids. The average level of vitamin D in women with fibroids was found to be 23.3 ng/mL.
How to Get More Vitamin D
There are several ways you can get more vitamin D if you have fibroids.
If you take 10 to 15 minutes each day and expose around 10% of your skin to the sun, it can help make about 1000 IU of vitamin D in your skin. This would be what you need for your recommended daily value of vitamin D.
You may be able to get some vitamin D from your diet although there aren’t a lot of foods with naturally high levels of vitamin D. Some of the foods with vitamin D include fatty fish like salmon, beef liver, egg yolks, and cheese. Some foods such as orange juice and cereals are fortified with vitamin D.
You can also use a vitamin D supplement, and you should aim to get around 400 to 600 IU daily, but in the winter or if you can’t or don’t get sunlight regularly, you might need a daily dose of 800 to 1000 IU.
The Best Vitamin D Supplement for Fibroids
We have a full post on the best vitamin D supplements, which is worth checking out if you’d like to find a natural way to help your fibroids.
Our top pick for the best vitamin D supplement for fibroids and vitamin D deficiency, in general, is the Carlson Super Daily D3 Drops, with 2000 IU per drop.
These drops help support immune health and balance as well as heart and muscle health.
They’re also affordable and easy to use. You simply take a single drop and get a 2000 IU dose of vitamin D3. You can put the drops under your tongue or add them to a drink.
People who have used the Carlson vitamin D drops say they’ve helped them with fatigue and depression, and they’re easy to tolerate even for people who can’t typically take vitamins or supplements.
They’re also flavorless, which is always a plus.
Summing Up—So, Can Vitamin D Shrink Fibroids?
There is very convincing and compelling evidence that vitamin D can shrink fibroids. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to fibroids and even outside of fibroids, being deficient in vitamin D can put you at risk for serious health conditions, including cancer. It’s definitely worth investing vitamin D if you have fibroids, and as always, speak to your doctor before taking any supplement.