Fertility, Pesticides and B Vitamins May Help

B vitamins may help counteract a common pesticide’s detrimental effects on fertility

According to new research at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, women who have adequate levels of B vitamins are more likely to get pregnant and stay pregnant even with high levels of the common pesticide DDT, which is known to have harmful reproductive effects.

These findings were published in last month’s issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and they indicate that B vitamins may offer protection for individuals with DDT (a known endocrine disruptor) in their bodies. While the US banned DDT in 1972, this pesticide is still used against mosquitoes in various countries where malaria continues to be a public health concern. Unfortunately, DDT can remain in the body and environment for decades.

In this three year study, among the 291 female participants there were 385 conceptions, 31% of which were lost before six weeks. Women with high DDT levels and sufficient levels of B vitamins (B6, B12 and folate) had a 42% increased risk of early miscarriage than women with lower DDT levels. But in those with high DDT levels and vitamin B deficiencies, women were twice as likely to suffer a miscarriage before six weeks of gestation. The researchers discovered that the risk to a pregnancy was higher with B12 and folic acid deficiencies and with deficiencies in more than one B vitamin. In addition, researchers found that women with high DDT and low B vitamin levels took almost twice as long to conceive in the first place.

In my opinion, this study validates the idea that sufficient B vitamins and improved nutrition protect our bodies from environmental toxins. These cofactors are essential to our health and function and better prepare the body to counteract the toxic effects of pesticides, environmental toxins, and other stressors we get exposed to on a daily basis.

We all live in an ever-increasing toxic environment. More than 80,000 chemicals are introduced into the world each year and in all honesty our indoor environment is likely more toxic than our outdoor environment. We are exposed to pesticides, herbicides, chemical solvents, xenobiotics, and industrial chemicals of all kinds from the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe. These toxins accumulate in the body and contribute to the total toxic load that can cause a variety of health problems.

Just like traditional doctors use a complete blood count (CBC) and a comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) as general screening tools to help rule out health problems in their patients, health care providers should do proper assessments in order to ensure that women have adequate micronutrients in their diets – including B vitamins – not only during pregnancy but before they even conceive. Otherwise, many may miss this critical window. This can be assessed by an organic acid test, which identifies imbalances before any abnormal findings on a CBC or CMP. Organic acid testing can indicate the functional need for specific nutrients, diet modification, antioxidant protection, detoxification, and other therapies.