When you and your partner want to conceive, one of the best tricks in the book is to eat healthy. As a general rule, following food guidelines is the way to go. However, for your specific case you do want to make sure that you’re getting enough of certain vitamins that can help give your fertility a boost.
We’ve listed some of the most important vitamins you need to conceive, as well as sources that are rich in them. Note that these vitamins can help increase your chances of conceiving. However, they aren’t a fertility treatment on their own. If you’re having trouble getting pregnant, it’s still best that you consult a doctor or a fertility expert.
You may be unfamiliar with this nutrient. Bromelain is basically an enzyme that can be found in pineapple cores. It’s not a 100% proven fertility regimen, but many women do swear by it. It is said to help out with fetal implantation, although there are yet to be studies that prove how this works, exactly.
The research that is available for bromelain, however, does show that it has excellent anti-inflammatory properties. These properties were specifically studied on their effects on endometrial tissue. This could be promising, especially since there is always a chance that your immune system might identify the fertilized egg as foreign and, therefore, reject it. Taking in an anti-inflammatory substance could help reduce the risk of this happening.
While L-carnitine is a nutrient that you’ll want to take in, your partner is the one who can probably benefit most from it! In a small study, it was found that men had superior sperm motility when they took L-carnitine supplements compared to when they took a placebo or none at all. While scientists may need to replicate this study to confirm its benefits, it doesn’t hurt to get your partner to take more of it in.
It is produced naturally by the body, although it can be found in large amounts in red meat. Many fruits, vegetables, nuts and cereals also contain L-carnitine as well. Generally, a balanced diet should ensure that hubby gets enough of it.
Okay, so zinc is actually a mineral and not technically a vitamin. Still, it’s an important part of the conception diet that we thought it was still worth a mention. Studies have found that zinc can actually protect sperm against harmful germs that just might sabotage their ascent into the female reproductive tract. This can definitely increase their chances of meeting up with the egg.
It can be found in meats, leafy vegetables, seafood, mushrooms, beans and seeds. You can also find it in egg yolks and brown rice. Again, a balanced diet is really the key here. Unlike some other nutrients, you don’t really need to eat a specific sort of food to get zinc. But it does help to ensure that the food you take in isn’t highly processed.
Another mineral that we thought was worth a mention, calcium, is extremely important when you’re trying to conceive and during pregnancy. This is because your calcium requirements will be quite high as your little one develops bones. Since you probably will be unaware of your pregnancy for the first few weeks of it, it’s vital that you get enough calcium.
Granted, though, this is more for your own benefit than for your little one’s. If your calcium levels are too low for your baby’s skeletal development, what your body will do is basically extract calcium from your own bones. This can put you at increased risk for osteoporosis and other bone conditions later on.
11 Folic acid
One of the vitamins recommended for conception is folic acid. Folic acid is a precursor to vitamin B-9, which is essential to proper brain functioning and brain development in fetuses. It is abundant in green and leafy vegetables as well as beans. If you think that your intake of folic acid is inadequate, you may ask your doctor for a supplement that is especially designed for women who are pregnant or trying to conceive.
Some studies even show that taking folic acid can help boost fertility in women. Further study needs to be done to confirm this, however. But it certainly doesn’t hurt to eat foods that are rich in it so your future baby’s brain to grow nice and strong.
10 Vitamin B-6
When it comes to B vitamins, make sure you don’t miss out on the rest! Incidentally, vitamin B-6 or pyridoxine is one that is said to aid with conception. This may be because it can aid with the release of progesterone, a hormone that is essential for the menstrual cycle and for pregnancy.
If you want to boost your intake of vitamin B-6, it can be found in meats such as beef and poultry. Eggs and dairy can also be rich sources of this essential vitamin. If you’re vegetarian, make sure to eat cereals and grains that are fortified with B vitamins.
9 Vitamin B-12
Another B vitamin that you should take when you’re trying to conceive is vitamin b-12. Both women and men who are deficient in this vitamin may experience temporary infertility, as well as other conditions such anemia and nerve problems. These, however, are easily remedied by supplementation.
Vitamin B-12 can usually be found in foods that are rich in vitamin B-6. This means it’s abundant in meat and dairy products. Vegetarians will need to eat fortified cereals and grains to get this vitamin, although you can also take a supplement if needed.
8 Vitamin E
Research has found that vitamin E supplementation helps promote better sperm function in males with infertility. Some scientists have actually used it to help men with unexplained infertility help conceive. It’s still not clear what, exactly in vitamin E has this effect. Some scientists think that it could be because of its antioxidant effect, which helps rid the body of toxins.
Vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin, can be found naturally in whole grains and cereals, vegetable oils, meat, dairy and some fruits and vegetables.
7 Vitamin C
Another vitamin that makes this list is vitamin E’s fellow antioxidant, vitamin C. Known as an immune booster, vitamin C has been documented to play some sort of role in hormones that affect fertility and pregnancy. It’s not clear, exactly, what this role is as of the moment. In men, vitamin C has an effect similar to that of vitamin E: it cleanses the body of toxins, improving sperm quality. In fact, at least one study shows that it can improve the sperm quality of smokers! Do note that smoking when trying to conceive is probably a bad idea anyway.
Vitamin C can be found in fruits, most famously the citrus variety. However, it can also be found in other fruits such as strawberries, pineapple and raspberries.
6 Beta Carotene
Beta carotene is a precursor to vitamin A, the vitamin most commonly associated with good eyesight. It is also believed to enhance fertility, although the exact mechanism for this is unknown. In studies among farm animals, however, vitamin A seems to play a role in helping prepare the body for pregnancy.
Beta carotene can be found in, as the name implies, carrots and also in other vegetables that are yellow or orange in color. This includes tomatoes, sweet potatoes and squash. It can also be found in some green leafy vegetables.
Another vitamin that may help boost fertility is choline. It is often grouped with the B vitamins, although it doesn’t have a number to its name. It is believed that choline has protective effects that are similar to estrogen, one of the pregnancy hormones. Choline is also essential for proper brain growth in fetuses.
Like some of the other B vitamins, Choline can be found in dairy products and meat. It is yet another vitamin for which vegetarians will have to receive supplementation or consume fortified food products.
4 Vitamin D
What better reason to take an early morning walk than vitamin D? Known as the sunlight vitamin for obvious reasons, this vitamin can also be found in meat, dairy and fortified cereals.
Vitamin D is also essential to male and female fertility. In lab rats, vitamin D deficiency lead to decreased fertility rates as well as litter sizes. When carried over to humans, studies have found that women undergoing an in-vitro fertilization procedure were more likely to achieve success if they had high blood levels of vitamin D!
Coenzyme Q-10 is an antioxidant that is naturally produced by the human body. It is also found naturally in organ meats, broccoli and cauliflower. It is especially thought to be beneficial in promoting fertility in men, as it is found naturally in semen as well.
Researchers think that it is essential in promoting the movement of sperm. Because of this, it is often recommended in men whose fertility tests show that their sperm have low motility.
2 Omega-3 Fatty Acids
While technically more a fat than a vitamin, omega-3 fatty acids are known to have a protective effect on the heart by helping lower levels of bad cholesterol. It is also thought to provide benefits to males who are infertile. Research has found that men who were infertile had lower rates of omega-3 fatty acids in their sperm. Supplementation may therefore help give their little boys a boost.
These fatty acids can be found in fatty fish, hence their abundance in fish oil supplements. Vegetarians, however, will be pleased to know that it can also be found in nut oils as well.
1 Take a Multivitamin
Of course, if you doubt that you’re taking in enough vitamins in your food, you might want to take a multivitamin. After all, conception is a very complicated thing that requires plenty of different nutrients both for you and your partner. A multivitamin could be just the thing to deliver this complex mix that can help you conceive.
In fact, a study on women who had trouble conceiving showed that, when they took a multivitamin, they were more likely to get pregnant following a fertility treatment. This was in comparison to women who only received a folic acid supplement. Of course, it’s still best to consult your doctor regarding the contents of your multivitamin to make sure it doesn’t contain any additives that may prevent conception.