Even before you get pregnant, it is important to start paying attention to your intake of vitamins. Receiving the proper daily amount of these will help ensure that your body is functioning to the best of its ability. Additionally, certain vitamins and minerals have been found to be especially beneficial in aiding fertility.
What To Get Lots Of
- Folic Acid (400mcg/day): Over and over again, women are told to take folic acid to help prevent birth defects, but did you know that you should start taking folic acid as soon as you start thinking about getting pregnant? In addition to helping prevent serious birth defects like spina bifida, it has also been shown to improve fertility. But it’s not just women who need to up their intake, men also need folic acid to maintain the quality and number of their sperm. Dark green leafy vegetables, like spinach and broccoli, are a great source of folic acid.
- B6 (up to 50mg/day) and B12 (up to 50mcg/day): Along with folic acid, vitamins B6 and B12 help make up part of the B-complex family. All of these vitamins are essential to good reproductive health. B6 in particular has been shown to increase fertility in women, while B12 helps men with low sperm counts.
- Vitamin C (1,000mg/day): Lack of this antioxidant can cause sperm to clump together, obviously not ideal behavior for sperm when you’re trying to conceive. Men who smoke can really benefit from increased amounts of vitamin C. Since the chemicals found in cigarettes eventually make their way into semen (which is why it is best to quit when you want to get your partner pregnant), the antioxidant properties in vitamin C help to neutralize these chemicals. A study done on male smokers found that an intake of 500mg of vitamin C decreased the amount of clumping and abnormally shaped sperm as well as improved the men’s sperm count, motility and viability.
Vitamin C has also been found to help women on the fertility medication clomiphene increase their chances of conceiving. Citrus fruits and juices are a fantastic source of vitamin C (one medium orange contains 70mg), as are sweet peppers (half a cup of red peppers has 142mg), broccoli (a half cup contains 62mg) and strawberries (five have 51mg). However, because so much vitamin C is recommended to aid in fertility, it might be a good idea to complement your dietary intake with a supplement.
- Zinc (15 – 30mg/day): This mineral is important for maintaining the production of testosterone in men. Low levels of zinc can also affect sperm count and motility. In women, zinc helps the body use estrogen and progesterone more efficiently. Meat and seafood are the best sources of this mineral but it can also be found in whole grains and wheat germ.
As important as this mineral is, it’s vital that you don’t take too much. High levels of zinc can be toxic as well as counterproductive in your efforts to aid conception. A well-balanced diet is usually sufficient to maintain zinc levels. However, if you are thinking of taking a zinc supplement, consult your doctor first so that you can be sure you receive the correct amount.
- Selenium (55 – 100mcg/day): An antioxidant that helps protect the body from free radicals, selenium can help minimize the risk of birth defects as well as increase sperm counts in men with a low sperm count. Some good sources of selenium include red meat, tuna, chicken, and enriched pasta and whole grain breads.
- Vitamin E (15mg/day): Although experts aren’t sure why, vitamin E has been found to aid in conception. Men often receive vitamin E when their partners are undergoing in vitro fertilization treatment. Increasing the intake of this antioxidant has been found to increase a couple’s chances of IVF being successful by 10%. However, this vitamin should not be taken if you are using anticoagulants. You should always check with your doctor if you plan to exceed 500mg/day. Wheat germ oil is an excellent source of vitamin E (one tablespoon will provide you with your total daily intake) as are almonds and sunflower seeds and oil. Broccoli and spinach also provide some vitamin E.
How To Do It All In One Easy Step
When you eat a healthy, well-balanced diet that includes five servings of fruit and vegetables, two to three servings of dairy and protein products plus about five to six servings of grains, you automatically take in all the vitamins and minerals you need everyday.
Take a Prenatal Supplement
Aside from eating a healthy diet, you should take prenatal vitamins to ensure you are receiving all of the vitamins and minerals in the correct dosage. Your doctor will most likely recommend you take a prenatal supplement as a part of your pre-pregnancy preparation. Even if you are confident that you already follow a healthy diet, there’s no harm in taking a daily multi-vitamin, just to be on the safe side
Eat Well To Maintain Your Weight
Eating a healthy diet will also help you maintain your weight, which is equally important in increasing your chances of conceiving. Replacing unhealthy desserts with healthier options will help you to receive the proper nutrition to maintain your health. Women with too little body fat may not produce enough estrogen, which is necessary for regular menstrual cycles and ovulation. Too much body fat, though, can cause an overabundance of estrogen, which can also cause problems with ovulation and menstrual cycles. Men who have too little body fat or who are obese may find that their body is unable to properly produce sperm and that their sex drive takes a nosedive.
Multi-tasking Your Meals!
Additionally, since all foods contain a variety of vitamins, you can consider yourself to be multi-tasking when you eat them. For instance, while broccoli is a great source of folic acid, it is also a source of vitamin C and E. If you drink a glass of milk, then eat some lean meat or other protein source plus a few vegetables, you’ll have all the bases covered. Now that doesn’t seem so hard, does it?