Did you know that your nutrition has a remarkable influence on fertility? Nutrition is the cornerstone to laying the foundations for a successful and healthy pregnancy and baby. Nutrients play an essential role in creating and maintaining healthy eggs and sperm that will go on to fertilise, implant and grow a healthy baby.
It takes at least three months for immature eggs and sperm cells to develop to maturity. As a result, building the foundations in your and your partner’s diet and lifestyle during this 3-4 month pre-conceptual period is as important as the pregnancy itself.
Here are some essential nutrients to focus on including in your diet to help optimise your and your partner’s fertility health:
These essential fats have a profound effect on every system of your body, including the reproductive system and they are crucial for healthy hormone functioning. Omega-3 fatty acids also control inflammation which may interfere with getting and staying pregnant. In a typical ‘Western Diet’, we do not get enough omega-3 in our diet. We recommend two portions of oily fish per week.
Sources: oily fish, walnuts, flax seeds, seaweed.
Folate is a powerful antioxidant which means it protects against free radicals. Excess radical levels may cause oxidative stress and inflammation, which have been associated with fertility issues and other health problems. Folate, in its antioxidant capacity, may impart various benefits for fertility, including improving egg quality, supporting sperm health, and regulating ovulation cycles. L-Methyl folate is the most bioavailable form of folate, so make sure to look out for this rather than folic acid if you are supplementing.
Sources: Dark leafy greens, avocados, beetroot, citrus fruits, asparagus, beans, nuts.
Both eggs and sperm require very high levels of cellular energy, meaning more CoQ10 is needed. Lower CoQ10 levels reduce eggs’ energy production, impacting their quality and making them less viable for conception. After fertilisation, this mitochondrial energy is vital, as the embryo requires it for healthy development.
As women age, their eggs are more likely to have chromosomal errors, leading to an increased risk of miscarriage or having a child with a genetic condition. As an antioxidant, CoQ10 reduces oxidative stress associated with diminished ovarian reserve (i.e., poor egg quality or low egg count).1https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32767206/ CoQ10 may promote a higher fertilisation rate2https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29587861/ and more high-quality embryos. It may also boost the number of ovarian follicles and improve ovulation.
Sources: oily fish, organ meats, whole grains.
4. Zinc and Selenium
These minerals are antioxidants that are essential in protecting egg quality and the DNA within. Zinc is also very important for sperm quality3https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2023.1134244/full. Zinc plays a significant role in balancing hormones. It is necessary for how we use our reproductive hormones oestrogen and progesterone and is also involved in thyroid hormone production. As the master regulator of hormones, the role of the thyroid is extremely important.
Sources: nuts, seeds, meat, chickpeas.
5. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a steroid hormone with receptors found throughout the body including the majority of reproductive organs.
At the ovarian level, vitamin D has been shown to enhance ovulation. It appears to work at a cellular level by altering AMH signalling, increasing FSH sensitivity and increasing progesterone production. In a recent study of patients undergoing IVF, those with adequate vitamin D levels had a higher chance of obtaining top-quality embryos compared to those who were vitamin D deficient. Additionally, women with adequate vitamin D levels had higher implantation rates and clinical pregnancy rates than those with levels under 20 ng/ml. Previous studies suggest this correlation is the result of an effect at the endometrial level, likely mediated through local immune responses.
Sources: Sunshine & supplements!
A scientific literature review found that probiotic use for fertility is useful in a number of ways. Probiotics suppress pathogens, boost the immune system, boost conception, reduce the risk of infection, and lower the risk of pregnancy complications.4https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23414386
The beneficial bacteria living in your GI tract are responsible for many essential metabolic processes, such as proper digestion of food, bio-availability of several vitamins, immune system regulation and providing a first line of defence against pathogens. At a very basic level, these key functions all impact a person’s fertility. For example, the better your digestion of food, and absorption of vitamins and minerals is, the better equipped your body is to fuel all of the chemical reactions that are essential to balancing your hormones. Hormone regulation is key when trying to conceive!
Sources: Kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut.
In addition to these recommendations, we also suggest the use of our Shatavari tincture. This herb has been used for many centuries in Indian Ayurvedic medicine to promote fertility and provide a range of health benefits, particularly for the female reproductive system.5https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322043#uses-of-shatavari
Read more about how kefir can help support you and your baby here https://www.chucklinggoat.co.uk/5-ways-kefir-can-support-you-and-your-baby/.
Questions? Speak to our team of Nutritional Therapists on live chat, 8 am – 8 pm on weekdays.