Important Nutrients For Fertility
While all nutrients are important for health, there are some that have been specifically shown to have a direct impact on fertility. Below is a list of these nutrients.
Vitamin D :
Vitamin D is needed to help the body create sex hormones which in turn affects ovulation balance
Food source: Eggs, Fatty fish, dairy and cod liver oil. Vitamin D can also get from sitting out in the Sun for 15 to 20 min/day. But absorption is impacted by the darkness of skin.
Vitamin E :
As shown in studies vitamin E is to improve sperm and motility in men. Studied have shown a diet deficient in vitamin E to be a cause of infertility in rats. Vitamin E is also an important antioxidant to help protect sperm and egg DNA integrity.
Food Source: Sunflower seeds, almonds, olives, spinach, papaya, dark leafy greens
Necessary for every cell in the body having energy to function,CoQ10 has also been shown in studies to increase sperm motility in semen. It is also an important antioxidant that helps to protect cells from radical damage. This may impact egg health as well.
Food source: Found in seafood and organ meat. Amounts in the body decline with age.
Vitamin C improves hormone levels and increase fertility in women with luteal phase defect, accordingly to a study published in "fertility and sterility". As for men, vitamin c has been shown to improve sperm quality and protect sperm from DNA damage; helping to reduce the chances of miscarriage and chromosomal problems. Vitamin C also appears to keep sperm from clumping together, making them more motile.
Food source: abundant in plants and fruits including red peppers, broccoli, cranberries, cabbage, Potatoes, and citrus fruit
Lipoic acid is a very important antioxidant because it is not only helps to protect the female reproductive organs and has been shown to improve sperm quality and motility but it also helps the body to continually re-use the antioxidants in the body.
Food source: Small amounts found in potatoes, Spinach and red meat.
Vitamin B6 may be used as a hormone regulator. It also helps to regulate blood sugars , alleviates PMS, and may be useful in relieving symptoms of morning sickness. B6 has also been shown to help with luteal Phase Defect
Food sources: Tuna, banana, turkey, liver, salmon, cod, spinach, bell peppers, and turnip greens, collard greens, garlic, cauliflower, mustard greens, celery, cabbage, asparagus, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, chard.
Vitamin B12 has been shown to improve sperm quality and production. It also may help to boost the endometrium lining in egg fertilization, decreasing the chances of miscarriage. Some studies have found that a deficiency of B12 may increase the chances of irregular ovulation, and in severe cases stop ovulation altogether.
Food sources: Clams, oysters, muscles, liver, caviar (fish eggs), fish, crab, lobster, beef, lamb, cheese, eggs.
Folic Acid :
Perhaps one of the best known vitamins necessary for pregnancy is folic acid. This vitamin helps prevent neural tube defects as well as congenital heart defects, cleft lips, limb defects, and urinary tract anomalies in developing fetuses. Deficiency in folic acid may increase the risk of going into preterm delivery, infant low birth weight and fetal growth retardation. Deficiency may also increase the homocysteine level in the blood, which can lead to spontaneous abortion and pregnancy complications, such as placental abruption and pre-eclampsia.
Food sources: liver, lentils, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, asparagus, spinach, black beans, navy beans, kidney beans, collard greens
Studies have shown that women who do not get sufficient amounts of iron may suffer an ovulation (lack of ovulation) and possibly poor egg health, which can inhibit pregnancy at a rate 60% higher than those with sufficient iron stores in their blood.
Food sources: Lentils, spinach, tofu, sesame seeds, kidney beans, pumpkin seeds (raw), venison, garbanzo beans, navy beans, molasses, beef
An antioxidant that helps to protect the eggs and sperm from free radicals. Free radicals can cause chromosomal damage which is known to be a cause of miscarriages and birth defects. Selenium is also necessary for the creation of sperm. In studies men with low sperm counts have also been found to have low levels of selenium.
Food sources: Liver, snapper, cod, halibut, tuna, salmon, sardines, shrimp, crimini mushrooms, turkey.
In women, zinc works with more than 300 different enzymes in the body to keep things working well. Without it, cells can not divide properly; estrogen and progesterone levels can get out of balance and your reproductive system may not be fully functioning. Low levels of zinc have been directly linked to miscarriage in the early stages of a pregnancy, according to The Centers for Disease Control's Assisted Reproductive Technology Report. In men zinc is considered one of the most important trace minerals to date for male fertility; increasing zinc levels in infertile men has been shown to boost sperm levels; improve the form, function and quality of male sperm and decrease male infertility.
Food sources: Calf liver, oysters, beef, lamb, venison, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, turkey, green peas, shrimp. Zinc can be damaged by cooking so it is important to eat some foods high in zinc in their raw forms.
Food to Avoid
Sugar, Soda & Pasteurized Juices :
- Pasteurized juices such as bottled apple juice, orange juice, and other bottled fruit juices contain concentrated sugar, which can throw off your blood sugar levels and negatively effect your immune system and hormonal balance. Also avoid any processed/refined and artificial sugars. Some great alternatives are stevia, honey, and maple syrup.
- Studies have shown that caffeine can affect your hormonal balance, increase your chances of a miscarriage and prevent you from ovulating.
Soy Food :
- Soy food have been shown to contain estrogen mimicking properties. It is best to avoid processed soy foods such as soy milk, soy burgers, soy protein powder, soy chips, soy meats, and soy cheeses to avoid a negative impact on your hormonal balance. Both men and women are affected by soy.
- Genetically Modified foods are becoming a real problem when it comes to fertility, causing an influx in worldwide infertility rates. Since the 1970's, sperm counts among the world's male population have declined as much as 40%. GMO foods may be one of the reasons.
Fat-Free Food :
- Foods which are altered to be reduced in fat or fat- free are highly processed and high in sugar. When choosing food, always choose the food which is naturally made them. Full fat dairy is one example that was shown in a study by Harvard to increase fertility over the fat-reduced options. Again, fat is what our bodies need to produce hormones