Being fertile is a condition many people take for granted. Fertility is your body’s ability to reproduce. A fertile man will be able to father children. A fertile woman will be able to get pregnant, carry her baby for nine months, and ultimately give birth to that baby. Many of us come to a point (or realisation?) that we want to have a family someday. At the centre of that realisation is being able to have children. Below are five ingredients you should add to your day to support fertility:
Vitamins. Numerous research studies have successfully concluded that women who regularly use multivitamin supplements have higher fertility rates compared to those who didn’t take a multivitamin. Special emphasis was given to folate. It not only prevents neural tube defects (abnormalities in the brain and spine) in the baby but is also needed by both parents to have more stable DNA (genetic material) present in the sperm and egg. As you might already know, modern foods are harvested or picked unripe. They are then artificially ripened. Along the way, a lot of vitamins are lost. Our soil also lacks minerals due to overfarming. Furthermore, modern diets are highly processed so are lacking in nutrients, justifying your body’s need to supplement with a good multivitamin and mineral supplement. We recommend both women and men to look for a multi that contains folate in the methylfolate form. This is the active form which your body can use right away, unlike folic acid which has to be converted to the active form first.
Taking a comprehensive multivitamin and mineral supplement three to six months prior to conception is particularly important for those women who have been long time users of the contraceptive pill. This is because the contraceptive pill leads to nutrient depletion unless these nutrients are replaced while the pill is being taken.
Minerals.Zinc supplementation has been shown to increase the number of quality sperm in men. Several studies have demonstrated that the sperm of those men who supplemented with zinc are normal-looking, greater in numbers, and are faster swimmers. All of these characteristics translate to greater chances of fertilisation. Women can benefit from zinc supplementation too. Experiments in female mice found that zinc deficiency adversely affects the timing of ovulation. Having more zinc in their diet gave them a better chance of regular ovulation.
Iron (like zinc) has been shown to decrease ovulatory infertility, which is the single most common cause of infertility among women. Ovulatory infertility means that you have a problem with the periodic release (monthly ovulation) of the egg from the ovary. When this happens, the chances of the sperm meeting the egg at the right time diminishes.
Selenium is a commonly forgotten mineral with antioxidant properties. When taken in the right amount, selenium protects the sperm from oxidative damage. Selenium can be toxic to your liver or lungs when taken in excess. Consult a fertility expert or qualified healthcare practitioner before supplementing with selenium. Dietary sources of selenium include Brazil nuts (highest source), peanuts, lentils, beans, and seafood (tuna, crab, lobster).
Remember, you may be getting these minerals in your multi already so check with your healthcare practitioner whether you need to take extra of these minerals or not.
Maca root powder. Supplementation with maca (Lepidium peruvianum) demonstrated improved semen quality in men who took it in a study published in the Asian Journal of Andrology. Another study found that it has the potential to help manage the symptoms of menopause. They postulated its potential in supporting fertility: maca possesses high antioxidant activity which could be useful in reducing or preventing damage to the sperm and egg. It also promotes healthy libido.
Essential fatty acids (EFAs). EFAs are fats that are actually good for us and essential in our diet (our bodies can’t make them). Before you get pregnant, having an abundant supply of EFAs in your body is a good thing. They’re vital to your baby’s eye, brain, and heart development. More importantly for our purposes here, EFAs show potential in increasing the number of young eggs in the ovaries of young women who want to get pregnant.
It has also been demonstrated, in a study on female mice, that EFAs reduce inflammation in the body which can negatively impact egg production in the ovaries. The EFAs we’re referring to here are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), both of which are abundant in sardines and salmon, but can also be sourced from microalgae.
Antioxidants found in green foods. An imbalance between reactive oxygen species and antioxidants can lead to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress affects both the egg and the sperm rendering them almost incapacitated to meet up and fertilise. Having adequate amounts of antioxidants in your system helps to guard against oxidative stress on the sperm and egg. Green foods like chlorella, spirulina, and barley grass contain an army of antioxidants to keep your fertility levels up. Examples of these antioxidants include chlorophyll, vitamin C, vitamin E, and glutathione.
Luckily, improving on your fertility and your chances of conceiving can start at home. We suggest you include the ingredients above to maximise your chances of supporting your fertility. Though if you’ve already been trying to conceive for over a year with no success, you may want to get some extra help from a certified fertility clinic near you. You can ask your healthcare practitioner or go online and search for yourself. Don’t lose hope. There are other options available for you and your partner.