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Nutrients to support fertility in women and men

If you and your partner are thinking of trying for a baby, by consuming the right amount and type nutrients, both of you may enhance your chances of conception as well as carrying a healthy pregnancy[1]. Read on for more information on the specific nutrients to support fertility that you should include in your diet and some expert advice from BMI Healthcare’s consultant David Chui at The Esperance Hospital.

Nutrients to support fertility in women

Folic acid

As one of the most well-known vitamins to take before and during pregnancy, folic acid is essential. It assists in the development and closing of your baby’s neural tube, which forms into the brain and spine[2]. It can help decrease the chance of your baby developing spina bifida; this is when a baby’s spine doesn’t form completely.

It is recommended that you supplement your diet with 400 micrograms of folic acid a day until your 12th week of pregnancy. In women who have had a previous child with neural tube defect, who suffer from diabetes or who take medication for epilepsy, a higher dose of 5mg/day is advised.

Where you can find folic acid:

  • Dark green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach
  • Lentils
  • Avocado
  • Lentils and nuts

nutrients-to-support-fertility-th-article

Omega-3 fatty acids

This nutrient can help in a range of ways including, balancing your hormones and increasing your cervical mucus, which can help you conceive[3]. Also, because it increases the blood flow to the reproductive organs, it can improve the overall quality of your uterus. Plus, it’s easy to work into your diet.

Where you can find omega-3:[4]

  • Fish including, mackerel, salmon, sardines and tuna
  • Walnuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Tofu

Iron

Not enough iron at the beginning of your pregnancy can increase your risk of anaemia during pregnancy and after you give birth[5]. If you suffer from anaemia, it may be worth talking to your doctor about taking supplements, if not, then you can get your iron intake from a range of foods.

Where you can find iron:[6]

  • Red meat
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Dried figs and apricots
  • Kidney beans
  • Lentils
  • Quinoa

Nutrients to support fertility in men

Vitamin C

As well as being brilliant for your immune system, vitamin C can help improve sperm health and motility and can help prevent from your sperm sticking together[7].

Where you can find vitamin C:

  • Citrus fruits including, orange, grapefruit, lemon and lime
  • Non-citrus fruits including pineapples, kiwifruit and strawberries

L-Carnitine

Carnitine is derived from an amino acid and plays a critical role in energy production within the cells of the body[8]. The carnitine content of seminal fluid is directly related to sperm count and motility, and supplement of L-carnitine may therefore improve quality of sperm.

Where you can find L-carnitine:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Chicken
  • Milk
  • In general, the redder the meat, the higher its carnitine content

L-Arginine

This amino acid can help with better sperm development, producing more ejaculate and supporting a higher sperm count[9].

Where you can find L-Arginine:

  • Peanuts
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Lentils

Nutrients to support fertility in both women and men

Zinc

Zinc is an essential nutrient for both women and men when you’re trying to conceive. For men, it boosts the overall quality of the sperm and for women, it helps to mature eggs for fertilisation and regulates the hormones throughout the menstrual cycle. Low levels of zinc have also been linked to early miscarriage[10].

Where you can find zinc:

  • Red meat
  • Poultry
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Asparagus

Vitamin E

This antioxidant can improve overall sperm health in men and is also found in the fluid around developing eggs, so it’s important for both of you to keep your vitamin E levels up.

Where you can find vitamin E:

  • Avocados
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Broccoli
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Almonds

CoQ10

Co-enzyme Q10 is considered as a vitamin-like nutrient and a powerful antioxidant. It is produced naturally by the body but can be obtained in small amounts through diet[11]. It reduces cell and DNA damage caused by “free radicals” (these are unstable molecules that can cause damage to cell structures). CoQ10 may therefore improve egg and sperm health, and in turn embryo health. This is particularly relevant in women over the age of 35, when egg health and quality tend to decline more rapidly, and in men with sperm quality problem.

Where you can find CoQ10:

  • Organ meats such as liver and kidney
  • Beef
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel
  • Vegetables such as, broccoli, cauliflower and spinach
  • Nuts and beans

Beta-carotene

This nutrient found in a range of food sources can support a healthy reproduction system. For women, beta-carotene is essential for ovulation and can help balance hormones. For men, the nutrient can help sperm motility[12].

Where you can find beta-carotene:

  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Pumpkin

You can find out more about BMI Healthcare fertility services here. If you’ve been trying for a baby and having difficulty conceiving, you can find out more about our in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment options here.

[1] http://www.babycenter.com/0_how-to-eat-when-youre-trying-to-conceive_1460692.bc?showAll=true
[2] http://www.babycenter.com/0_folic-acid-why-you-need-it-before-and-during-pregnancy_476.bc?page=2
[3] http://natural-fertility-info.com/vitamins-good-for-fertility
[4] https://www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/omega3.pdf
[5] http://www.whattoexpect.com/preconception/ask-heidi/iron-and-fertility.aspx
[6] http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/spotlight-high-iron
[7] http://www.parents.com/getting-pregnant/fertility/best-vitamins-and-minerals-to-aid-conception/
[8] https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Carnitine-HealthProfessional/
[9] http://menfertility.org/improve-sperm-quality-with-arginine/#fn-26-1
[10] http://natural-fertility-info.com/zinc-fertility.html
[11] http://natural-fertility-info.com/antioxidant-ubiquinol.html
[12] http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/suzi-godson/sperm-count_b_4193468.html

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