Fertility-Boosting Nutrients

Superfood salad

Looking to improve your chances of conceiving? Specific nutrients in your diet may help improve the intricate processes involved in reproduction.

Each part of the reproductive process relies heavily on very specific nutrients that can only come from your diet. Too much or too little of these nutrients can have a negative impact on your body’s ability to conceive. Many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants influence a woman’s fertility by modifying the effectiveness of reproductive hormones. You may have irregular menstrual cycles, cycles that do not release an egg (anovulation), or release a poorly matured egg.

To avoid these issues and improve your chances of conceiving, there are 6 nutrients you should consume on a daily basis. Here’s where to find them:

Many vitamins, minerals an antioxidants influence a woman’s fertility by modifying the effectiveness of reproductive hormones.

Folate: Also commonly referred to as folic acid (folic acid is the synthetic or man-made name for folate), this is an essential B Vitamin. Studies have shown that inadequate intakes of folate (or an existing deficiency) can negatively affect your ovarian function, implantation rate, and the initial growth of an embryo. Include some of these folate-rich foods in your diet:

  • Dark, leafy greens

  • Beans and lentils

  • Broccoli

  • Asparagus

  • Eggs

  • Liver

  • 100% whole grains

Iron: This is a mineral that is essential for healthy blood production and function. Without adequate iron, you may end up with iron deficiency anemia (where a lack of iron causes low levels of red blood cells). Studies have shown that regular consumption of iron-rich foods or iron supplements reduced the risk for poor ovarian function. Include some of these iron-rich foods in your diet:

  • Red meat

  • Turkey or chicken

  • Leafy greens

  • Shellfish

  • Pumpkin seeds or pepitas

  • Tofu

  • Liver

Vitamin D: frequently called the “sun vitamin”, Vitamin D is a very common deficiency worldwide. We no longer spend time outdoors without sunscreen to allow our bodies to produce adequate amounts of Vitamin D. Many studies have shown that women with normal Vitamin D levels were much more like to get pregnant compared to those who were deficient(1). Also, studies showed that those women receiving IVF treat or donor egg IVF treatment were also more likely to get pregnant(2). Include some of these Vitamin D rich foods in your diet:

  • Fortified orange juice

  • Fortified milk

  • Eggs (with the yolk)

  • Fatty fish (salmon, tuna or mackerel)

  • Liver

Zinc: Another essential mineral, zinc is typically needed for adequate immune function, the growth and repair of cells (especially wound healing), the breakdown of carbohydrates, and normal sense of smell and taste. Studies have shown that a zinc deficiency or inadequate intakes of zinc are related to poor follicle growth and development. Include these Zinc-rich foods in your diet:

  • Nuts and seeds

    • Beans

    • Eggs

    • 100% whole grains

    • Shellfish

DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid): This is a type of omega-3 fatty acid. Most well known for their cardiovascular benefits, omega-3 fats like DHA have also been shown to be beneficial for those seeking fertility treatments. Women who had higher intakes of DHA had more, higher quality follicles even with advanced age or BMI (3). Include some of these zinc-rich foods in your diet:

  • Red meat

  • Shellfish

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Sweet potatoes and regular potatoes

  • Eggs (with the yolk)

  • Beans

  • Dairy foods

Coenzyme Q 10: You may know this nutrient by its well known shortened name of CoQ10. A fairly common over-the-counter supplement, Coenzyme Q10 acts as an antioxidant in the body – defending cells against harmful free radicals. Studies have reported that increased consumption of CoQ10 has been shown to improve egg quality and may slow the natural decline of fertility. Include some of these Coenzyme Q 10 rich foods in your diet:

  • Red meat

  • Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel or sardines)

  • Shellfish

  • Chicken or turkey

  • Nuts

  • Liver

Take a look at your meals and snacks. Do they include any of these foods? If not, work on making small changes to your diet to include more of these fertility-boosting nutrients.

References:

1. Rudick et al. Fertil Steril. 2014; 101(2):447-52.

2. Chu et al. Hum Reprod. 2018; 33(1):65-80.

3. Hammiche et al. Fertility and Sterility. Vol. 95, No. 5, April 2011 1820-23

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