Not all couples trying for a baby are will fall pregnant straight away. In fact between 10-20% of women who would like to become pregnant won’t get pregnant within the first year of trying. Whilst this can be due to underlying problems, it can often simply be a combination of not knowing the best time to try paired with an unbalanced lifestyle. Nutrition and physical health play a significant role in female fertility and, as such, there are a number of vitamins that can give your chances a significant boost.
How Nutrients Increase your Chances of Getting Pregnant
Eating certain foods and avoiding others has been medically proven to improve the ovulatory function of a woman and increase her chances of becoming pregnant. Of course, it’s not all about diet. There are other factors that can lower your chances of getting pregnant. Being overweight or underweight can lead to menstruation disorders, which can cause a woman to stop ovulating.
Below are some things to be aware of when thinking about diet and nutritional or vitamin supplements as you try for a baby.
What are the best foods to eat when trying to conceive?
As studies have found that high levels of insulin appear to inhibit ovulation, it is wise to avoid eating refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, white rice and cakes, which our bodies digest quickly and turn into blood sugar. Instead, stick to more complex ‘good’ carbs, which contain plenty of fibre, such as wholegrains and beans. These carbs are digested more slowly, having a more stabilising effect on insulin and blood sugar.
When trying for a baby, it is therefore important to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet that has plenty of good quality protein, fruit and vegetables and is low in saturated fats and high in fibre. Lean organic poultry, quinoa, beans, seeds, nuts and tofu provide a healthy source of protein for women trying to conceive.
Can you get all the vitamins you need to get pregnant in your diet?
Even if you are consuming a healthy, nutritional, well-balanced diet, you still may want to take vitamins or fertility supplements to fill in any nutritional gaps in your diet that may help you conceive and, if you do become pregnant, are important for healthy foetal development.
What recognised standards should I look for on fertility supplements?
If you do decide to take fertility vitamins and supplements when trying for a baby, it is important to only take ones with recognised standards, as such supplements can vary significantly in quality. Vitamins that come under the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) or the Traditional Herbal Registration (THR) are among the best to take, as they are regulated and contain what they say on the label.
Between 10-20% of women who would like to become pregnant won’t get pregnant within the first year of trying.
The Best Vitamins for Female Fertility
As well as a healthy balanced diet and an active and healthy lifestyle, there are a number of vitamins that have been identified as really aiding female fertility. Whilst they are certainly not essential for conception, if taken at the appropriate dose, they can increase your chances.
Folic acid is an important vitamin, not only for women trying to conceive, but during the first three months of pregnancy. Folic acid can help increase your chances of becoming pregnant and is an important nutrient in helping the baby’s spine develop the way it should. It is recommended that women trying to conceive take at least 400 micrograms of folic acid daily and continue taking this supplement for the first three months of the pregnancy.
Studies have shown that folic acid also has fertility benefits for men, increasing the quality and quantity of sperm.
Coenzyme Q10 is a natural antioxidant, which is found in many foods and available as a supplement. Our bodies make CoQ10 and our cells use it to produce the energy the body needs for cell growth and maintenance. Studies have found that CoQ10 supplements in older women trying to conceive can improve their chances of pregnancy success.
Omega 3 Fatty Acid
By regulating the hormones, promoting ovulation and increasing cervical mucus, as well as the flow of blood to the reproductive organs (thereby improving the overall quality of the uterus) Omega 3 Fatty Acid has been scientifically proven to help fertility.
As the body cannot make Omega 3 Fatty Acid, it is particularly important we gain this nutrient through our diet or by taking supplements. Fish oil and flax oil are rich in Omega 3. Women trying to conceive or who are already pregnant are advised to take at least 650mg of fatty acid each day. If you do become pregnant, switch to a pregnancy omega 3 formulation which contains higher amounts of DHA for foetal brain health.
Iron is another important fertility nutrient, as studies show that women with insufficient amounts of iron in their bloodstream run the risk of suffering from anovulation. Not only can low iron stores prevent ovulation, but it can lead to poor egg health, which can significantly inhibit pregnancy.
It is recommended that women trying for a baby and during pregnancy take 27mg of iron per day. It is recommended you seek medical advice before taking an iron supplement as some people store iron abnormally which can lead to toxicity.
Calcium plays a vital role in the development of a baby’s bones, blood vessels and heart. Women trying for a baby should ensure they are getting the recommended 1000mg of calcium a day in case they become pregnant.
As well as eating plenty of dairy foods, calcium-fortified plant milk and other calcium-rich foods like spinach and non filleted tinned sardines, if you’re trying for a baby you may want to take a calcium supplement.
Vitamin D helps an unborn baby develop normally. It is therefore important to have sufficient stores of vitamin D when trying for a baby. A vitamin containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D is advised for women who are trying to get pregnant.
Research shows that giving women vitamin B6 can increase their chances of becoming pregnant. Foods naturally rich in vitamin B6 include pork, fish, bread, eggs, soya beans and chicken. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin B6 is 10mg. If you’re not getting sufficient B6 in your diet, you may want to think about taking a supplement.
Vitamin C helps regulate the menstruation cycle and normal ovulation. As vitamin C is not naturally stored in the body, it is recommended you take a daily dose of 500mg twice a day.
Low levels of vitamin E are often found in men with fertility problems. In women, vitamin E can increase cervical mucus, making it easier for sperm to stay alive for longer. Taking a vitamin E supplement could increase a couple’s chances of conception.
Research shows that selenium can promote healthy follicles in the ovaries, which develop and release the eggs. This antioxidant can also protect against birth defects and miscarriages caused by DNA damage. Women trying to conceive should not exceed more than 400mg of selenium a day.
Zinc also supports fertility by regulating normal hormone function, cell division and ovulation. As our bodies don’t store zinc so it is important women wanting to become pregnant receive the recommended daily allowance of 8mg.
Taking a preconception multivitamin formulation, which includes many of the vitamins mentioned above, can ensure couples trying for a baby are getting the nutrients they need to optimise pregnancy success, and promote a healthy pregnancy and normal foetal development.