High levels of vitamin D are linked to improved fertility and reproductive success, a study of wild sheep has found.
ScienceDaily reports that the study, carried out on a remote Hebridean island, adds to growing evidence that vitamin D - known as the sunshine vitamin - is associated with reproductive health. Experts hope that further studies will help to determine the relevance of the results for other mammals, including people.
Sheep had more lambs
Scientists from the University of Edinburgh found that Soay sheep with higher levels of vitamin D in their blood at the end of the summer went on to have more lambs in the following spring. The study offers the first evidence that an animal's vitamin D status is associated with an evolutionary advantage.
First study in wild animals
The research is published in the journal Scientific Reports. It was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Natural Environment Research Council. Dr Richard Mellanby, Head of Small Animal Medicine at the University's Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, who led the research, said: "Our study is the first to link vitamin D status and reproductive success in a wild animal population.
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