There are many components that can affect your fertility status. Unfortunately, there is not one fix all solution. If you are wanting to have a baby in the near future, it may be a good time to look at your preconception health. It is essential that you are creating a beneficial environment for your reproductive system to function properly. Although there are many underlying parts that affect your fertility status, there are a few that you can control. What you fuel your body with can play a huge role in your ability to conceive. Pre-conception nutrition research has shown that nutritional intake is tied to fertility health. Your diet can either help or hinder your fertility. If your goal is to boost your fertility, then you would want to choose foods that are going to help and support your reproductive health.
Eating to boost your fertility is a way of eating that is supporting your body in its reproductive efforts. This includes foods which are dense in specific nutrients needed for hormonal function, production and balance, fetal development, egg health, sperm health, blood health and much more. Fertility nutrition is designed to help your body balance fertility issues that may exist, build up nutrient stores and provide all of the building blocks for a healthy child.
Beneficial Nutrients for Fertility
While all nutrients are important for health, there are some that have been specifically shown to have a direct impact on fertility.
Zinc contributes to semen and testosterone production in men and ovulation and fertility in women. There are several studies that indicate that deficiencies in zinc affect both male and female fertility.
Vitamin D is needed to help the body create sex hormones which in turn affects ovulation and hormonal balance.
Vitamin E has been shown in studies to improve sperm health and motility in men. It’s an important antioxidant to help protect sperm and egg DNA integrity.
Vitamin C improves hormone levels and increases fertility in women. For men, vitamin C has been shown to improve sperm quality and protect sperm from DNA damage, helping to reduce the chance of miscarriage and chromosomal problems. Vitamin C also appears to keep sperm from clumping together, making them more motile.
Vitamin B6 can function as a hormone regulator. It also helps to regulate blood sugars.
Vitamin B12 has been shown to improve sperm quality and production. It also may help boost the endometrial lining in the egg fertilization, decreasing the chances of miscarriage. Some studies have food that a deficiency of B12 may increase the chances of irregular ovulation.
This vitamin helps prevent neural tube defects as well as congenital heart defects, cleft lips, and limb defects in developing fetuses. Deficiency in folic acid may increase the risk of preterm labor, fetal growth retardation, and low birth weight. Deficiency may also increase the homocysteine level in the blood, which can lead to spontaneous abortion and pregnancy complications, such as placental abruption and preeclampsia.
Studies have shown that women who do not get sufficient amounts of iron may not ovulate regularly and can cause poor egg health, which can inhibit pregnancy.
Selenium is 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.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 acids have been shown to help fertility by helping to regulate hormones in the body, increase cervical mucus, promote ovulation and overall improve the quality of the uterus by increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs.
Omega-3 fats also contain two acids that are crucial to good health: DHA and EPA. These two acids have been shown to help many forms of disease. Low levels of DHA have been linked to depression and other mental health issues. During pregnancy, a lack of DHA may be associated with premature birth and low birth weight.
When working with clients who are struggling to get pregnant, I like to recommend that they get micronutrient testing done using Spectracell. This is a blood test we offer through our clinics that analyzes 35 vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids at the cell level vs. blood serum level to provide the most accurate information on nutrient levels. Micronutrients can greatly affect hormonal health as shown by the diagram below. If micronutrient status is inadequate in either male or female partners, it is difficult to achieve hormonal balance that could be leading to issues with conception. Completing a micronutrient panel can give you a better idea of what nutrients you or your partner may be lacking and can be adjusted through diet or possible supplementation.
Nature has created foods to help nourish and feed the body. When the body is optimally nourished, the body is then able to repair and rebuild itself. This is very helpful for fertility, especially if there is an underlying imbalance or fertility issue. The cells in the body are constantly dying off and new cells are being created to replace the old cells. This is occurring in every organ, muscle, tissue, etc., of the body constantly. The building blocks of these new cells are provided from the foods that you are consuming. So being aware of what you are fueling your body with, can help improve your chances of getting pregnant when you are ready. Meeting with a dietitian when you are preparing for pregnancy is an essential time to make sure you have a balance of nutrients, especially those that are important for fertility.