Fertility Nutrition and Supplements

Nutrition plays an important role in achieving healthy fertility, enjoying a healthy pregnancy, and most importantly a healthy baby.

While eating a healthy diet is most important, we may not be getting all we need.  Nutritional deficiencies have been linked to hormonal problems such as ovulation issues, poor egg health and low sperm count. During pregnancy, nutritional needs are higher, and meeting those needs will have a positive effect on the health of both the mother and her unborn child. The effects of good nutrition while the fetus is developing during pregnancy and breast feeding will last for a lifetime. Think of good fertility supplements as a backup plan that ensures you are getting the nutrition you don’t get from your diet.

What you won’t find in your Prenatal supplement are Omega 3, CoQ10 and probably Vitamin D.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids After a good Pre-Natal supplement, Omega 3 is the most important fertility nutrient to consider…

CoQ10/Ubiquinol. Researchers remarked that taking a CoQ10 supplement was “like turning back the clock on the age of the eggs.” Sperm function is also significantly improved…

Vitamin D research has shown that supplementation may help couples trying to conceive. Good vitamin D levels are associated with better quality embryos and a better chance of implantation, and fewer complications in pregnancy…..

While eating a healthy diet is most important, we may not be getting all we need.  Nutritional deficiencies have been linked to hormonal problems such as ovulation issues, poorhealthy veg egg health, and low sperm count. During pregnancy, nutritional needs are higher, and meeting those needs will have a positive effect on the health of both the mother and her unborn child. The effects of good nutrition while the fetus is developing during pregnancy and breastfeeding will last a lifetime. Think of good fertility supplements as a backup plan that ensures you are getting the nutrition you don’t get from your diet.

The best Pre-natals in New Zealand are I believe Tresos Natal, and Pure Natal, both a welcome step up from other popular and much-advertised Pre-Natals.  The nutrients in these pre-natal supplements include the following…

Beta-Carotene is the vegetable precursor to Vitamin A and is completely safe during pregnancy. Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant which helps to protect egg and sperm DNA from damage by harmful free radicals which can affect the quality of both the egg and sperm.

Vitamin B6 may be used as a hormone regulator. B6 has also been shown to help with Luteal Phase Defect. B6 is important during pregnancy as it is involved in the formation and growth of red blood cells. In pregnancy it supports a healthy nervous system as it is required for the production of several neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, GABA and norepinephrine. is the metabolically active form of vitamin B6.

Pyridoxal 5-phosphate is the metabolically active form of vitamin B6.

Vitamin B12 has been shown to improve sperm quality and production. It also may help to boost the endometrium lining in egg fertilisation, decreasing the chances of miscarriage. Some studies have found that a deficiency of B12 may increase the chances of irregular ovulation, and in severe cases stop ovulation altogether. During pregnancy B12 is required for red blood cell formation, and is involved in DNA synthesis, cell growth and replication. B12  is essential for the normal function of all cells, and is required for the synthesis of myelin, the insulating protection around nerves.

Vitamin C

  • Improves hormone levels and increases fertility in women with luteal phase defect, according to a study published in “Fertility and Sterility”.
  • Keep sperm from clumping together, making them more motile.
  • Enhances sperm quality, protecting sperm and the DNA within it from damage. Some research has indicated that certain types of DNA damage in the sperm can make it difficult to conceive in the first place, or it can cause an increased risk of miscarriage if conception occurs. Information on Sperm DNA damage testing SCSA can be found (…)
  • Women taking the drug clomiphene to stimulate ovulation will have a better chance of ovulating if vitamin C is taken alongside the drug.
  • Essential for iron absorption.
  • Is an antioxidant, -assists in protecting the body from the damaging effects of free radicals.
  • Supports the development and maintenance of bones, teeth, cartilage and connective tissue formation.

Choline. Research indicates that higher choline intake during pregnancy is associated with lower risk of neural tube defects. Choline also protects against elevated homocysteine levels which are associated with increased risk for miscarriage, and in one study was associated with poorer egg and embryo quality in women with PCOS undergoing IVF. In addition, choline is involved in memory and muscle control. In a study in rodents, when mothers consumed higher levels of choline, their offspring had significantly better memory throughout their lives. Thus choline intake during pregnancy may have a very long-term impact on memory and brain function from infancy into adulthood.

Vitamin E is an important antioxidant that helps protect sperm and egg DNA integrity. Supplementing with Vitamin E has been shown in studies to have beneficial and protective effects, especially on Sperm motility, and also somewhat on sperm morphology. A study published in Fertility and Sterility 2010 showed that Vitamin E supplementation may increase endometrial thickness. But  If you have endometriosis It is not a good idea to supplement with Vitamin E.

Iodine. There is increasing evidence that New Zealanders are not ingesting enough iodine. This is necessary for growth and fetal brain development.  The NZ Ministry of Health recommends you should take it from when you first find out you are pregnant until you stop breastfeeding. NZ’s Fertility Associates also recommends taking it if you are trying to conceive.

Iron. Studies have shown that women who do not get sufficient amounts of iron may not ovulate, and may possibly have poor egg health, which can inhibit pregnancy at a rate 60% higher than those with sufficient iron stores in their blood.

“In a study of women who were having ovulation problems, 40% became fertile after supplementing with iron.”

Selenium. An antioxidant that helps to protect the eggs and sperm from free radicals. Free radicals can cause chromosomal damage which is known to be a cause of miscarriages and birth defects. Selenium is also necessary for the creation of sperm. In studies men with low sperm counts have also been found to have low levels of selenium.

Folinic Acid: Perhaps one of the best known vitamins necessary for pregnancy is folic acid, which the body converts to folinic acid. This vitamin helps prevent neural tube defects as well as congenital heart defects, cleft lips, limb defects, and urinary tract anomalies in developing fetuses. And that’s not all: folinic acid is part of the very important B-complex family of vitamins that are necessary to produce the genetic materials DNA and RNA, not only of the egg but also the sperm. Together with vitamin B12, folinic acid works to ensure that your baby’s genetic codes are intact. It is essential that you get plenty both before and during pregnancy. Deficiency in folinic acid may increase the risk of going into preterm delivery, infant low birth weight and fetal growth retardation. Deficiency may also increase the homocysteine level in the blood, which can lead to spontaneous abortion and pregnancy complications, such as placental abruption and pre-eclampsia. Unfortunately, some people lack the gene that allows conversion of folic into folinic.

Vitamin K which plays an important role in healthy blood coagulation. Vitamin K is also necessary for the synthesis of osteocalcin, an important protein found in bone.

Niacin/nicotinamide is involved in approximately 200 enzymes in the body and is involved in fatty acid, cholesterol and steroid hormone synthesis.

Pantothenic acid is involved in healthy hormone synthesis and modulation.Nutrition plays an important role in achieving healthy fertility, enjoying a healthy pregnancy, and most importantly a healthy baby.