The importance of supplements
Whilst it is important to get as many nutrients as possible from our diet, these days even the best diets may not contain all of the nutrients needed to maximise fertility.
A huge number of nutrients are essential for all stages of reproduction – from maturing a healthy egg, to fertilisation and implantation of the embryo, to producing the hormones that control the whole process, and supporting all of your body’s essential systems so your body and brain believe conditions are safe to reproduce!
When taking supplements for fertility, it’s important to take things that are safe for pregnancy as you often won’t know when you fall pregnant. Also remember ‘more’ is not necessarily better – be careful with dosing and follow directions on the product you are taking or get professional advice.
Multivitamin and mineral supplements
OK, so this is a bit of a cheat as it’s actually many supplements…but taking a good pre-natal multivitamin and mineral supplement is one of the most important things you can do to prepare for pregnancy.
Some key nutrients to look for in your multi include:
- Vitamin B12 – essential if you are vegan, but useful for all. Associated with better embryo quality and reducing risk of miscarriage
- Vitamin B6 – for immune system support and protect from chromosomal damage
- Vitamin C – supports ovulation
- Vitamin E – shown in studies to improve female reproductive health, and reduce risk of miscarriage
- Beta-carotene – an antioxidant that protects the membranes of the reproductive system and protects against cell mutations
- Zinc – essential for genetic material and cell division in the foetus
- Selenium – an antioxidant which protects the cells as they divide
- Co-enzyme Q10 – increases egg and embryo quality
Folate is best known for preventing serious birth defects such as spina bifida, but it is also important for making new copies of DNA (required when a cell divides), and for making the building blocks of proteins, both of which are vital in early egg and embryo development. It also supports ovulation and progesterone levels (the hormone needed to ‘hold’ a pregnancy); and can improve egg quality.
Folate will generally be included in any good quality pre-natal multi. Folic acid (the synthetic form) must be converted to folate (the natural form) by the body before it can be used, and this process is not very efficient in some people, so it is better to look for ‘folate’ in your multivitamin.
Omega-3 fatty acids affect every system of the body, and are essential for healthy hormone function, and boosting the baby’s brain, eye and nervous system development. They also help reduce inflammation which may affect getting pregnant, and staying pregnant. They can help support the immune system, and can help manage blood clotting, both of which may reduce the risk of miscarriage. Wild Nutrition’s food grown fertility range offer a range of different supplements.
Low levels of vitamin D are very common in the UK in particular through the winter months as our best source is sunlight on bare skin. However, it is important to test your levels before taking high dose vitamin D supplements.
Studies have suggested having enough vitamin D is associated with higher pregnancy rates – particularly following IVF, and higher live birth rates. Vitamin D is thought to support the immune system to help reduce the risk of miscarriage. The Bump outlines in depth about the vitamins you need.
For certain conditions (e.g. endometriosis, fibroids) an excess of oestrogen may be affecting your fertility. Probiotics (combined with increased fibre and water intake) help make your poo bulkier and move it through the gut more quickly, which can help reduce oestrogen levels by removing ‘used’ oestrogen from the body. Oestrogen and progesterone need to be in balance, and too much oestrogen means a relative ‘lack’ of progesterone which is essential to maintain pregnancy in the first trimester. Probiotics can also help reduce inflammation through the body which may be linked to infertility.
These 5 supplements will be helpful for anyone who would like to support their fertility generally. However, if you have been trying to get pregnant for some time then there may be other factors at play reducing your chances of conceiving. There is a huge amount that can be done through tweaking your diet and lifestyle to support fertility. A Nutritional Therapist has the specialist knowledge and access to an extensive range of laboratory tests to investigate the specific issues relating to your fertility. If you have any concerns or would like to explore this further then book in for a free discovery call.
AUTHOR: LIZ FIELDEN
NUTRITIONAL THERAPIST, SURREY
Liz is a BANT registered Nutritional Therapist and Fertility Specialist, offering virtual consultations to women and couples anywhere, and face to face consultations in Surrey. She supports women of any age to maximise their chances of conceiving, and having a healthy pregnancy and baby. She can support women with specific health conditions impacting their fertility, or those with unexplained fertility, as well as couples who are undergoing fertility treatment such as IUI, IVF and ICSI.
To book Liz, visit her directory page below!