Do Prenatal Vitamins Really Increase Fertility?
Need for Vitamins if you’re trying to conceive! If you are trying to conceive then using vitamins is definitely the write answer. Studies have backed the importance of vitamins in conception. Most commonly it is considered that women who are trying to conceive should increase vitamins and supplementary intake, but it is equally important for men as well.
If you’re looking for something to boost the chances of you getting a baby then this article is all you need as it will mention all vitamins and nutrients you need to take to have a better of being a mother/father!
A “must have” vitamin that you should be taking before and during pregnancy. Moreover, it is beneficial both for men and women. Folic acid belongs to B-complex family and is an essential element for the production of genetic material i.e. DNA and RNA in both egg and sperm.
Folic acid is an essential vitamin that prevents your baby from brain and spinal cord issues like spina bifida. It happens when tube (central nerve system) developing around your baby does not close completely. This neural tube carries network of nerves present in backbone that connect rest of the body with brain.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, women with child bearing age should consume 400 micrograms of folic acid daily till the 12th week of pregnancy. So, you should start taking folic acid as soon as you started trying for baby.
A research conducted at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany showed that supplementation of diet with micronutrients, including folic acid, can greatly increase the chances of females getting pregnant and can act as a plausible cure for female infertility.
Folic acid in combination with zinc helps in DNA and RNA synthesis. In addition, Increase in level of homocysteine can be the consequence of folic acid deficiency. High level of homocysteine can cause spontaneous abortion and pregnancy complications, such as pre-eclampsia and placental abruption.
Food sources: navy beans, collard greens, pinto beans, lentils, asparagus, spinach, black beans, kidney beans, liver.
Vitamin D is essential because it helps body in the formation of sex hormones both in male and female, a process called steroidogenesis. It helps in estrogen and progesterone stimulation, regulates menstruation, and enhances sperm viability, which ultimately affects the chances of fertilization. Studies show that regular use of vitamin D during pregnancy decreases the chances of premature birth and other complication during pregnancy.
Experiments initially done on mice have shown that lack of Vitamin D or lack of vitamin D receptor can lead to female infertility. But if still pregnancy is achieved then impaired growth was observed in the fetuses. Vitamin D and calcium together normalize reproduction in mice, but not calcium alone.
In humans, vitamin D receptors are an important part of many female organs like ovary, placenta, and uterus. In female reproduction system, active form (calcitriol) of vitamin D plays a pivotal role, as it controls the genes involved in making estrogen, shortly before the implantation of embryo onto the uterine cavity. Uterus and placenta continue to make calcitriol still if women are pregnant, which helps in organizing the immune cells so that possible infection would be handled during pregnancy. Low status of vitamin D may also be associated with some other pregnancy complications like gestational hypertension and diabetes.
Vitamin D deficiency is very common in the West especially in winter because body needs proper exposure to sunlight for optimum vitamin D production. A study was conducted in the Yale School of medicine where the level of vitamin D was checked in 67 infertility women. Amazingly, only 7% had enough vitamin D in their bodies, which shows a strong relation between inadequate body vitamin D and risks of infertility.
The major source of vitamin is sunlight. You need to spend time outdoors so that you can get maximum exposure to sunlight- just don’t scorch your skin in the process!
Food sources: Cod liver oil, Eggs, fatty fish, and dairy, sitting for 10-15 min under sun.
It is an antioxidant essential for both male and female trying to conceive. In women, it enhances the hormone level and helps the women achieve regular monthly cycles. In a study of 150 women with luteal defect ( a defect leading to irregular menstruation and increased infertility), a group was given 750 mg vitamin C daily and other received no treatment at all. The group provided with vitamin C showed increase in progesterone level but other group showed no changes. Moreover, vitamin C group showed 25% pregnancy rate within six month, whereas group with no vitamin C had a pregnancy rate of 11%.
Studies have also shown that taking vitamin C is just as effective in boosting fertility as clomiphene- one of the most widely used drug for both male and female infertility. Results of a research conducted in 179 men showed that taking vitamin C was just as effective as using clomiphene in increasing male fertility.
According to a study published in “Fertility and Sterility Journal” vitamin C helps to enhance the quality of the sperm and prevents the sperm DNA from damage. Increased oxidative stress is one of the greatest risk factors for both male and female infertility. Vitamin C, due to its antioxidant effects, can save both genders from the damage inflicted by oxidative stress.
When you are preparing to conceive, be care full not to use vitamin C more than 750-1000 mg. Higher usage of Vitamin C can make your body acidic and an acidic environment is not good for sperm implantation and fertilizing egg.
Food sources: Tomato, potato, broccoli, cranberries, cabbages, and citrus fruit.
Chemical name of vitamin E is alpha-tocopherol, which is a combination of two Greek words, “took means offspring” and “phero means to bear”. This shows how important vitamin E is fertility process. It is proven equally important for men and women trying to conceive. Men with problems of fertility usually show low level of Vitamin E. Poor sperm quality is one of the biggest risk factor for miscarriage, decreased fertilization and spontaneous abortion. This is where vitamin E comes in by improving sperm quality. In a study, 10% increase in fertility was observed in men after taking vitamin E supplement even for few month.
Results of most researches have linked vitamin E with male fertility, but it doesn’t mean that it has no value for females. In women, vitamin E makes the environment of cervical mucosa favorable for sperm survival. Moreover, researchers have also tied vitamin E supplementation with improved regularity in menstrual cycle and higher chances of fertilization and conception.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that prevents cell membranes from oxidative damages. Studies also show that it is helpful in protecting red blood cells, immune system and nerve cells from oxidative damage.
Vitamin E also contributes in improving the thickness and blood supply of uterus, as shown by a study done in 2010. Using vitamin E supplements in a dose of 600mg per day resulted in 72% increase in uterine blood supply and 52% boost in uterine thickness.
Men provided with vitamin E before IVF (in vitro fertilization) showed increase in fertilization rates, ranging from 19% to 29%.
Dose of 15milligram per day may be helpful for women who face spontaneous abortion due to the rupture of amniotic sac.
Food sources: Spinach, , papaya, dark leafy greens, , nuts, nut butters, sunflower seeds, almonds, asparagus, avocado, berries, and tomatoes., olives, raw vegetable oils, rice bran oil, barley and seaweed.
Vitamin B6 aids in fertility process because it increases the length of luteal phase of menstruation. In luteal phase, the uterus becomes receptive to fertilization and aids in embryo implantation. Moreover, B6 vitamin ensures that your menstrual cycles are regular and are without any anomalies. The equation is quite simple here, regular menstruation = increased chances of conceiving.
Vitamin B6 deficiency causes problems for both males as females by contribution to increased damage of sperms and egg respectively. Results of a study conducted on 438 infertile women suffering from ovulatory disorders showed that increased intake of B vitamins, especially vitamin B6, can significant improve the regularity and quality of ovulation.
100-200mg is the suggested daily dosage for vitamin B6. It is a water soluble vitamin, which means that your body can’t store it for long. If you’re running low on B6 reserves then start eating B complex dense foods. If that’s not working then start using a multi-vitamin supplement.
Staying away from caffeine, processed food, refined sugar, hormones pills, smoking, and too much protein can also save you from vitamin B6 deficiency.
Food sources: Tuna, banana, turkey, liver, , cabbage, asparagus, broccoli, kale, salmon, cod, spinach, bell peppers, and turnip greens, collard greens, garlic, cauliflower, mustard greens, celery, Brussels sprouts, chard.
Enough vitamin B12 in your body makes sure that your sex hormone stay in a perfect balance. Also, optimum B12 levels save from anovulation and male infertility, as shown by numerous studies. Being a male if you’re getting enough vitamin in your diet, you’re making sure that your sperms are functional and semen quantity maximum. Results of a study showed that higher daily intakes of vitamin B12 can improve the quality of sperms in males suffering from infertility.
In females, regular daily supply of vitamin B12 can optimize the menstrual cycles, endometrial thickening and ovulation.
Vitamin B12 is equally important both during and after pregnancy. After pregnancy, this vitamin saves your child from countless developmental abnormalities like autism and mental retardation.
Food sources: Clams, oysters, muscles, liver, beef, lamb, cheese, eggs, Caviar (fish eggs), fish, crab and lobster.
Other Pro-Fertility Nutrients!
If you are talking about fertility, it’s important that you know about other nutrients too. Here is a little something about pro-fertility minerals.
Studies have shown that chances of anovulation (lack of ovulation) and poor development of embryo increase in those women having iron deficiency by 60%. For conception, a woman must have sufficient amount of blood in her, as iron is an important component of the hemoglobin needed for blood production.
18 mg daily intake is recommended for women before pregnancy, but if someone is pregnant and conceiving should take 27 mg of iron daily.
It is one of the most widely studied mineral when it comes to fertility. Zinc help with more than 300 enzymes, which ultimate helps body to work properly. It is an important component of the genetic material and helps in cell division. Its deficiency can cause change in chromosomes and disequilibrium in the level of reproductive hormones. Inadequate levels of zinc have been repeatedly linked with increased infertility and abortion. In men, zinc boosts the functionality of testosterone and improve sperm quality and quantity.
Food sources: Calf liver, oysters, beef, lamb, , pumpkin seeds, yogurt, turkey, green peas, and shrimp, venison, sesame seeds Raw cooking can damage Zinc its better if take it in raw form.
It is a potent antioxidant and saves the reproductive organs and reproductive structures from oxidative stress.
Food sources: In small amounts found in red meat, spinach and potatoes.
Taking supplements rich in this antioxidant improve fertility in both men and woman. As per Mayo clinic, Coq10 is essential for the proper functioning of all cells, including eggs and sperms. Adults need 30-120 mg of this antioxidant on daily basis.
Food sources: Seafood and organ meats.
Being an antioxidant, it saves both genders from damage of reproductive organs and improve egg and sperm quality.
Food sources: Liver, snapper, salmon, sardines, shrimp cod, halibut, tuna, crimini mushrooms and turkey.
Fatty acids and Amino Acid
It is an important fatty acid that helps to regulate hormones in your body. It is not naturally produced in your body and you’ve to get it from the foods you use. Clinical studies done in Netherlands show that daily intake of Omega-3 fatty acid can improve the quality of embryo. Omega-3 enhance ovulation, increases blood flow to the reproductive system and improves the health of uterus. DHA and EPA acids are also part of omega -3.
Food sources: Lentils, sesame seeds, kidney beans spinach, tofu, navy beans, molasses, beef, pumpkin seeds (raw), venison and garbanzo beans.
An amino acid found in major amount in the head of the sperm so taking it as a supplement will improve sperm quality. A dosage of 300 mg suggested per day.
An amino acid that helps in normal functioning of sperm cells, higher level of L-carnitine in sperm cell makes them better in quality and count. . A dosage of 100mg advised per day.
|Written by:||Michal Vilímovský (EN)|
|Education:||Medical student, 3rd Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic|
|Article resources:|| http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23571830
|Published:||January 29, 2015 5:22 PM|
|Next scheduled update:||January 29, 2017 5:22 PM|