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If you are planning to start a family, then you must have subscribed to a couple of pregnancy or parenting magazines and scoured the internet to gather all the information there is on pregnancy. Now that you are giving serious thought to bringing a new life into this world, it’s time that you prepare your body for the same. Both men and women need essential vitamins and nutrients to make a baby. Vitamins are an important part of our nutritional intake and they play an indispensable role in many of the bodily functions, especially important activities such as procreation. If you are trying to conceive, then as a couple you may want to consider some vitamins.
But just as your body needs to be prepared for pregnancy and child-rearing, you should also be emotionally and psychologically ready to have a child. Both men and women need to get plenty of vitamins and minerals in order to conceive. Here are some vitamins and nutrients that couples can start taking in order to conceive. However, it is suggested that you research well and understand the benefits and side effects of consuming these supplements in order to make an informed decision.
List of Vitamins and Minerals That Help Boost Fertility
Vitamins and minerals are organic compounds needed by the human body to function smoothly. An ideal diet should comprise of all the essential nutrients in small quantities as they cannot be synthesized in large quantities by the body. If they are not consumed in the normal food that you eat, fortified foods and supplements can help. To better your chances of getting pregnant, there’s a lot you can do, but including these vitamins and nutrients in your diet is the easiest solution out there.
1. Folic Acid
This is an absolute must-have for anyone wanting to get pregnant. Folic acid, also known as B9, is the ‘superhero’ vitamin in pregnancy. A woman in her reproductive age and while trying to conceive must consume 400 mcg of folic acid in a day. It is a B-complex vitamin that is used by the body to create red blood cells. It is one of the most important vitamins for female fertility and it lowers the possibility of a neural tube defect (an issue in the baby’s spinal cord). Men can also take this vitamin as it helps them produce healthier sperm. Folic acid is available in natural form as well as a synthetic vitamin. If you are looking for natural options, you can have citrus fruits, whole grains and green, leafy vegetables as they are a good source of folic acid. For a couple wanting to get pregnant, the woman must start consuming ‘folic acid’-rich foods at least a month or two prior to pregnancy.
2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D and fertility are closely linked; women with normal levels of Vitamin D are likely to conceive naturally. It is a fat-soluble vitamin which is vital for reproductive hormones. Vitamin D can be found in fortified dairy products, salmon, mackerel, tuna, cod liver oil. A simple walk during the day with your partner can help your body get the sun, which is a good source of Vitamin D.
Zinc is an essential mineral for improving fertility in both men and women. Zinc improves the reproductive health of women but it is equally important for men too. Zinc helps improve the quality of sperm and sperm motility. The recommended daily dosage of zinc for men is 11 mg and for women is 8 mg. Oysters are high in zinc, but couples can also consume whole grain, dairy, legumes, beans, crabs and lobsters.
Pregnancy can be taxing for a woman and can make her anaemic. But a high amount of iron intake during the baby-making process can improve a woman’s chances of conception and help her combat pregnancy-related anaemia. Low levels of iron lead to anaemia and also contribute to low levels of conception. So if you are planning to conceive, you need to ensure that you are getting the right amount of iron into your body prior to pregnancy. A woman must get the necessary tests done to check her iron levels and take adequate supplements to normalise the same. Iron builds the blood levels in the body and aids in fertility and also balances ovulation. Iron can be found in meat, tomatoes, beet, broccoli, spinach and pumpkin and can also be taken as a synthesized tablet if the levels of iron are low.
5. Vitamin E
Vitamin E too is essential for fertility in women. Plus it also improves the quality of sperm in men. It is also important to protect the egg and sperm DNA integration after conception. Vitamin E is an antioxidant which protects the body from free radicals which can damage your cells, thereby leaving you prone to infections. (This is for men or women?) In men, low levels of Vitamin E can lead to testicular damage thereby affecting sperm production. In women, deficiency of Vitamin E can prevent ovulation and thereby affect the chances of getting pregnant. You can increase your daily intake by including different types of seeds such as sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds in your diet. You can also eat almonds, hazelnuts, and peanut butter. Even fruits such as kiwi and mangoes are rich in vitamin E. Both men and women can consume these foods to up their Vitamin E intake. However, taking Vitamin E supplements is not recommended unless and until suggested by a doctor.
6. B Vitamins
All the vitamins in the B group are essential for reproduction. They include thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), pyridoxine (B6), and cyanocobalamin (B12). The group of B Vitamins are crucial for conception, especially for women, as they aid the ovaries to release an egg around ovulation. Vitamin B6 helps balance the progesterone levels in a woman’s body and can also improve the luteal phase thereby ensuring the proper time between ovulation and menstruation which is integral to a successful pregnancy. B12 has been known to increase the quality of sperm production in men and is a hormone regulator. All the essentials of B group can be found in chickpeas, whole grains, leafy greens, tuna, banana, clams, caviar, cauliflower, mustard greens, chard and eggs.
The human body converts beta-carotene into Vitamin A (retinol) which is great for the skin and hair. It is also important for healthy eyesight, mucous membranes, and for the immune system. For pregnancy, it is a hormone regulator and helps prevent miscarriage. It can be found abundantly in carrots, cantaloupes, sweet potatoes, kale, butternut squash, and broccoli.
8. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
The ultimate superfood for fertility and pregnancy, omega 3 fatty acids are an absolute must. These help the woman’s body to release eggs, increase blood flow to the uterus and balance out the hormones. Not only that, post-conception it is helpful for the foetal brain development and IQ. Although not all vitamins include omega-3 fatty acids, one can take it as a supplement. Foods rich in omega 3 are chia seeds, flax seeds, anchovies, herring, walnuts, cod liver oil, flaxseed oil, sardines. If you do not like the taste of fish, you can always supplement these with tablets after consulting with a physician. Omega 3 contains two acids which are crucial one is DHA and the other is EPA. Low levels of DHA have also been associated with premature birth, low birth weight and hyperactivity in children.
An antioxidant, this essentially helps protect the egg and sperms from free radicals which can destroy the cells. Normal levels of selenium promote sperm motility in men and oestrogen metabolism in women. It is a powerful source of nutrition and can be found in Brazilian nuts, leafy vegetables, whole grains and fish.
10. Coenzyme Q10
Taking this supplement helps improve fertility both in men and women. It is a fat-soluble vitamin-like compound that occurs naturally in a human body. It is not naturally produced by the body hence must be consumed with food. It is an essential substance for the function of cells. It is known to increase sperm count and the recommended daily dose is 30-200 mg divided throughout the day. It can be found in meat, fatty fish, whole grains.
11. L- Carnitine
An absolute energy source for sperms and sperm maturation, it is a substance that is crucial to enhance sperm motility. It is an amino acid-like compound that has the main function of producing energy. It is found in high quantities in milk and dairy products.
1. Can You Take Fertility Supplements to Aid Conception?
Yes, fertility supplements can be taken to aid conception but only after consulting with a doctor.
2. What Are the Best Fertility Supplements for Men?
Although the mineral zinc works best to improve sperm motility in men, they can also take L-Carnitine and L-Arginine to increase both sperm count and motility.
If you are trying to conceive, taking the above-mentioned vitamins and nutrients will help you get started. You can also take supplements of the same, but do consult a gynaecologist before starting with any of these vitamins and minerals. Speak to your doctor about the dosage and be safe!
Also Read: Ideal Foods to Boost Fertility