Keeping to a healthy diet is very important for maximizing fertility, but what exactly does a “healthy diet” mean?
Include these nutrients in your diet to help boost fertility
Although there are more nutrients that play into your fertility and general health than just the ones listed below, the following vitamins and minerals are some of the more vital ones to work into your preconception diet.
Vitamin D is one of the most important nutrients for female fertility, as it helps regulate your hormones, and ovulation. In fact, one study conducted by researchers at Yale found that 93% of infertile females have Vitamin D deficiencies. Most people get their Vitamin D from the sun, but milk is often fortified with the vitamin, and many multivitamins will also contain some Vitamin D.
A member of the B vitamin group, B6 has wonderful fertility benefits, including helping to lengthen the luteal phase, and increase cervical fluid. B6 is also beneficial during early pregnancy as it could help curb nausea. Some of the best food sources of B6 include sunflower seeds, pistachios, and fish.
Not only does iron help you build healthy new red blood cells, but it also helps boost fertility. Research shows that women who take iron supplements can decrease their risk of ovulatory infertility by about 40%, and it’s vital during pregnancy for a baby’s development. You may want to consider an iron supplement as you begin your TTC and pregnancy journey, but iron is also found in high quantities in meat, pumpkin seeds, and beans, among others. (Though you should, of course, talk to your healthcare provider before you start taking any supplement.)
These fatty acids are crucial for helping to regulate your hormones, and therefore your menstrual cycle, and are also very important during pregnancy as babies use it to help them develop their brains. Some individuals choose to take a fish oil supplement for their Omegas, but other sources include fish and eggs. (Though, again, you should talk to your healthcare provider before taking a supplement.)
Folic acid, or folate when it occurs naturally, is vital for DNA synthesis and new cell production, and is linked to better fertility outcomes. It’s also important to start taking folic acid before conceiving, as babies use it to help develop their brains within just the first few weeks of pregnancy. Some good sources of folate include citrus fruits, and dark, leafy greens.
Beyond just protecting your immune system, Vitamin C has lots of specific fertility benefits, like helping to regulate your hormones, and menstrual cycle, most commonly by helping to lengthen the luteal phase. Fruits and vegetables tend to be among the best sources of Vitamin C.
The bottom line
Although it’s important to get the recommended amount of certain specific nutrients, it’s more important to eat a balanced, healthy diet as a whole – chances are, if you do this, you’ll probably get all the good nutrients you need. But if you have questions any about whether or not you’re getting the nutrients you need in your current diet, or whether or not it’s a good idea for you to take a supplement, be sure to talk you your healthcare provider who can answer your questions and provide you with guidance.
- Donata Grajecki, Birgit-Christine Zyriax, Kai J. Buhling. “The effect of micronutrient supplements on female fertility: a systematic review.” Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics. Volume 285, Issue 5, pp 1463-1471, 5/12/2015. Web.
- Chavarro, Jorge E. MD, ScD, Rich-Edwards, Janet W. MPH, ScD, Rosner, Bernard A. PhD, Willett, Walter C. MD, DrPH. “Iron Intake and Risk of Ovulatory Infertility.” Obstetrics & Gynecology. Volume 108,Issue 5, pp 1145-1152. Web. 11/6/2015.
- Saldeen P, Saldeen T. “Women and omega-3 Fatty acids.” Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey. 59(10):722-30; quiz 745-6. Web. 10/4/2015.
- “Nutrition During Pregnancy: FAQ001.” ACOG. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 4/15/2015. Web.
- Hirofumi Henmi, MD, Toshiaki Endo, MD, Yoshimitsu Kitajima, MD, Kengo Manase, MD, Hiroshi Hata, MD, Ryuich Kudo, MD. “Effects of ascorbic acid supplementation on serum progesterone levels in patients with a luteal phase defect.” Fertility and Sterility. Volume 80, Issue 2, Pages 459-461. Web. 8/3/2015.