Thinking Of Getting Pregnant? You Need These 5 Fertility Supplements
Nutrients taken in supplement form are designed to enhance the good work you are already doing with your diet and lifestyle.
Supplements should never be a replacement for a healthy diet, so make sure to enjoy green leafy vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, lean protein, whole grains and omega 3 rich foods on a daily basis. However, at a time when nutrient needs are increased, such as when trying to conceive or during pregnancy, it can be useful to take supplements alongside your daily meals to ensure you avoid any deficiencies that may occur during this important time.
Here are 5 I'd recommend:
1. A high quality prenatal multivitamin and mineral
What Make sure that your chosen formulation contains at least 400 mcg of methylfolate or calcium folinate, which are absorbed much more easily than the standard folic acid added to most pre-natal supplements. Also, check that B12 is present in the form methylcobalamin, which is more easily absorbed than adenosyl- or cyanocobalamin. B12 is implicated in neural tube defects as it works alongside Folate in the body.
Watch out for If you have a history of pernicious anaemia (B12 deficiency), get your levels tested, you may need a stand-alone supplement or even injections to get your B12 levels back up to the normal range for trying to conceive.
2. Vitamin D
What This fat-soluble nutrient has been linked to a reduced risk of miscarriage, pre-term birth, low birth weight and pre-eclampsia, making it a vital fertility nutrient to stock up on. Make sure to get your blood levels checked first so you can figure out if you are deficient or not. For fertility, your blood serum levels should be at least 100-120 nmol/L.
Watch out for In most cases, Vitamin D that is part of a multivitamin formula won’t be absorbed as well as a stand-alone Vitamin D formula, so you may need to take it separately, as most of us can’t depend solely on sunshine or food to get the amount of Vitamin D the body requires.
3. Essential fats
What These help to lower inflammation within the body and thin the blood, which is useful to reduce the chances of miscarriage due to the blood clotting. In fertility studies, women with healthier levels of omega 3 were found to be more likely to conceive.
Watch out for Few people manage to get sufficient levels through diet alone, which is why a supplement may be necessary. There are numerous ante-natal fish oil supplements on the market supplying DHA and EPA fats in the ideal ratios. If you would prefer a vegan option, look for the algae derived DHA/EPA supplements or take flax oil instead.
What If you are prone to heavy periods then you may be at higher risk of iron deficiency, which could reduce your chances of conception. If you often feel tired, weak or have a pale complexion and pale tongue colour, it would be worth getting your iron levels checked to see if you need to supplement. Don’t assume that because you eat red meat your iron levels will be okay.
Watch out for If your digestion is compromised, due to stress or illness you may not be able to extract iron properly from your food, so supplementing may become a temporary requirement to ensure your iron levels are healthy enough to support a pregnancy.
What Vitamins A, C, E along with Selenium and Zinc are very important for fertility. Vitamin A should be present in the form Beta Carotene, which is safe during pregnancy, rather than the potentially toxic version, Retinol. Vitamin C and E work together to protect the body from free radical damage, which could potentially impact egg quality. Selenium is very important for women to ensure healthy thyroid function as this could hamper your fertility potential, while Zinc has also been studied extensively for it’s vital role in reproductive health.
Watch out for Zinc – it supports hormone balance and the maturation of the egg follicles prior to ovulation, so it should form a part of any anti-oxidant supplement you decide to take.
Jessica Bourke is a Natural Fertility Specialist, who deals with all aspects of reproductive health. Her clinical approach is based on evidence-based nutrition protocols, acupuncture treatment, and she also offers functional lab tests to support you on your journey to parenthood. She's a regular contributor to Irish media and co-author of the 'Guilt Free Gourmet' cook-book. As a Mum of two, Jessica understands the challenges of pregnancy and parenting. For more, visit jessicabourke.com.