Can Nutrient Deficiencies Cause Miscarriage?
Experiencing a miscarriage can be extremely unexpected and traumatic for any couple. Many women will be stuck wondering why it happened and may even reach out to their doctor looking for additional support and guidance as to why their miscarriage happened getting limited guidance on what to do next. Now although, there is still so much we still don’t know when it comes to the cause of miscarriages, there are some important factors we likely should be evaluating for in patients who have experienced a miscarriage. Unfortunately, as you may have likely experienced, many women are told, especially after their first miscarriage, that it was likely a “fluke” and “just to try again”. This limited guidance and support can be extremely frustrating for women and can make it even more difficult to want to try again as they often worry “what if it happens again?”. Although we may not know the root cause of all miscarriage, at NMD Wellness of Scottsdale, we believe it is critical for patients to be properly evaluated to make sure there are no known red flag that could increase their chance of experiencing another miscarriage. One question we often get ask is about nutrient deficiencies and the impact it has on miscarriages.
So let’s dive in.
Vitamin D is an important vitamin we often think about in association with our exposure to the sun. But, this fat soluble vitamin plays a variety of critical function in our body including increasing the absorption of other important nutrients including calcium, magnesium and phosphate. Vitamin D is involved in our brain, immune and reproductive health and deficiencies can absolutely play a role in pregnancy loss. In fact, according to researchers, low vitamin D isn’t simply associated with a direct risk of pregnancy loss, but in fact, low vitamin D can cause alteration in your glucose and insulin metabolism which can lead to a reduction in the expression of important endometrial protein, specifically glycodelin and Insulin-like Growth Factor Binding Protein- I. This alteration in endometrial proteins can alter the endometrial levels of glucose and ultimately lead to an increased risk of pregnancy loss, especially seen in recurrent pregnancy loss. If you haven’t had your vitamin D levels tested in a while or you were even told you had low vitamin D in the past and were just provided a vitamin D supplement, it may be worth asking your doctor to retest your levels before trying to conceive again.
Homocysteine + B12
Homocysteine is an important amino acid that is often mentioned in the discussion of pregnancy loss because certain vitamins, specifically vitamins B12, B6 and folate break down homocysteine to create other chemicals your body needs. Although researchers previously believed elevated homocysteine was specifically associated with pregnancy loss, especially recurrent pregnancy loss, the current research is not convinced. That being said, there are a variety of other underlying conditions including insulin resistance, PCOS, thrombophilia, and genetic variations that have been associated with an increased risk of pregnancy loss and often increase the risk that homocysteine levels will be evaluated. This means that if you have your homocysteine levels checked and they are elevated, this should be a red flag to investigate even further as to the potential underlying cause. Another important factor that appears to be of particular interest to researchers is the presence of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress happens when there is an imbalance between the body’s exposure to reactive oxygen species, commonly found in our environment, and our body’s ability to readily detoxify these reactive oxygen species. This imbalance can cause damage to our body at a cellular and even epigenetic level. In fact, when our body experiences high levels of oxidative stress and we are unable to properly eliminate these reactive oxygen species, this can actually alter our breakdown of homocysteine and can lead to deficiencies in some key nutrients involved in pregnancy including folate. Deficiencies in folate have been associated with both a difficulty to get and stay pregnant. Folate can impact egg quality and development, as well as, fetal development. If homocysteine levels are elevated, it can be associated with an increased risk of neural tube defects which can ultimately lead to an increased risk of pregnancy loss. Evaluating your homocysteine, folate and B12 levels should be a top priority. Although there is currently no great test to evaluate your oxidative stress exposure, addressing your environment, watching the food you eat, the air you breath and the environment and stress you endure all impact your oxidative stress status and should be a top priority. This is where researchers have overwhelmingly advocated for the importance of lifestyle and dietary modifications in patients with a history of pregnancy loss and infertility. Again, what we do, each and every day, has a significant impact on our ability to get and stay pregnant.
Oxidative stress also has a significant impact on our endothelium and can irritate the endothelial lining and has been associated with not only an increased risk of plaque formation but, it can increase the risk of clotting which has been long associated with pregnancy loss, especially since clotting within the placement can increase the risk of a miscarriage. Again, as you can see oxidative stress management should be a top priority in women who have experienced a miscarriage.
Bet, your doctor didn’t mention this during that “it’s likely just a fluke” appointment.
About the Author: Meet Dr. ZenAlissia Zenhausern- Pfeiffer, NMD, FABNE, (commonly known by her patients as Dr. Zen), is a licensed naturopathic doctor board certified in naturopathic endocrinology and the founder of NMD Wellness of Scottsdale, a premier naturopathic medical practice that focuses on helping women to take a proactive approach to their hormone and fertility health. Dr. Zen has been featured as a lead expert in Forbes, Shape Magazine, and Instyle and is deeply passionate about bridging the gap between traditional and natural medicine in the world of fertility. She works with a variety of hormone related issues including PCOS, endometriosis and unexplained infertility. Her goal is to help more women get back into the driver’s seat of their own health to make lasting transformational changes to their health to bring more cute and adorable babies into this world. Read More About Dr. Zen...