Fertility can be a really sensitive subject and there are many factors which play into someone’s ability to conceive. These include: stress, genetics (of both parties), hormone production, age, lifestyle, medications, health complications and nutrition to name just a few. To caveat this article, we must highlight that nutrition alone cannot be solely responsible for conception however, there are a few key nutrients which are important when an individual(s) are looking to conceive. We’ve outlined them below:
- Folic Acid
This is the most widely understood nutrient and it’s recommended that women looking to conceive should supplement with 400µg of folic acid in the three months prior to conception and throughout the pregnancy. Of course, not everyone is always aware that they’re going to conceive and therefore if your pregnancy is unplanned, fear not, just jump on the folic acid supplementation once you’re aware you’re pregnant. Folic acid is particularly important for reducing the risks of neural tube defects such as spina bifida in the offspring.
Zinc is a cofactor for over 200 reactions within the body. When it comes to fertility it’s crucial for sperm formation in the male, cell growth and cell replication which is a pretty essential part of creating a baby! It’s also important in carbohydrate metabolism which helps to manage blood sugar levels. The management of insulin and blood sugar is vital when it comes to supporting the growth of the foetus. Zinc can be found in beans, pulses, nuts, liver and meat.
- Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is essential for the production of DNA and supporting energy demands which are required throughout the conception process. Vitamin B12 can be found in meat, eggs, fish and diary alongside some fortified products. This can be challenging to obtain from a plant based diet and therefore supplementation is often recommended.
The creation of a foetus requires a significant amount of iron due to increased blood usage. Iron is important for transporting oxygen around the body to working cells and muscles. Sources of iron include: green vegetables, nuts, fish, sesame seeds and red meat.
Iodine is essential for neurological development in the foetus and is particularly important during the early stages of pregnancy. As a result, consuming plenty of iodine rich sources such as white fish, seaweed, prunes and dairy products too throughout the stages of conception can be crucial too.
Other lifestyle factors which may help with fertility include; mindfulness, reducing caffeine and alcohol, limiting stress and ensuring optimal sleep too!