These Nutrients Are Really Important If You’re Trying to Get Pregnant
A balanced diet is more important than ever if you’re looking to become pregnant. Fertility NZ share some essential nutrients – are you getting your share?
5 min read
Optimum nutrition is more important than ever when you are trying for a baby. What are you eating at the moment? Read on and make sure you’re getting plenty of these nutrients.
Folic acid is a very important nutrient – not just for women but also for men who are trying to conceive. Men with low levels of folate had increased risk of chromosomally abnormal sperm which could result in birth defects such as Down’s syndrome, or an increase in miscarriage. Low levels of folate are associated with a higher risk of spina bifida.
Folic acid is found in lentil beans, green leafy vegetables (1 cup provides almost your entire daily needs), green peas, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, asparagus, spinach, black beans, navy beans, kidney beans and collard greens. One serving a day of any of these foods provides anywhere from 50–90% of your daily needs. Dietary sources are readily available and easily absorbed.
Most women need a folic acid supplement to achieve the levels known to reduce the chance of gross abnormalities such as spina bifida.
Having a zinc deficiency can reduce testosterone levels. Zinc has been shown to raise testosterone and increase fertility. Zinc deficiencies are very common in both men and women due to our soils being low in this nutrient and also zinc can be leached out when foods are cooked or processed. It is recommended therefore to eat a diet with a good proportion of raw, unprocessed food.
Foods rich in zinc are beef, lamb, oysters, shrimp, venison, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, green peas.
This vitamin has been shown to increase sperm counts. Many people are deficient in B12; meat eaters and vegetarians alike. Some foods rich in B12 are dairy and animal products. Healthy levels of B12 depend on healthy digestion, which most people lack, often due to eating a highly processed diet.
Foods high in B12 are chicken liver, sardines, mussels, oysters, eggs, beef and lamb.
Vitamin C protects sperm from oxidative damage. Vitamin C is another nutrient that can be reduced by cooking and processing, so it important to get it from eating foods raw.
Some foods that are rich in vitamin C (and should be eaten raw) are kiwifruit, papaya, bell peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, strawberries, oranges, cauliflower and kale.
This amino acid is a necessary nutrient for sperm cells to function normally. Studies show that supplementing with L-Carnitine helps to normalise sperm motility in men with low sperm quality.
Foods rich in L-Carnitine are red meat, nuts, seeds, and many vegetables, including artichokes, asparagus, beet greens, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, collard greens, garlic, mustard greens, okra, and parsley.
Acts as an antioxidant protecting the sperm cells from damage. Studies have shown a connection between CoQ10 levels and sperm health. CoQ10 has also been shown to increase sperm motility. It has been shown that our CoQ10 levels decrease as we age.
Foods rich in CoQ10 are beef, marinated herring, rainbow trout, salmon, organ meats, peanuts, pistachios, sesame seeds, raw broccoli, strawberries, oranges, eggs, plus whole grains that still contain the germ.
This has been shown to improve both sperm concentration and motility.
Food sources are fish liver oils, egg yolk, carrots, tomatoes, rockmelon, pumpkin, kumara and spinach.
This is a very important nutrient for all parameters of sperm health. It is also necessary for mitochondrial protection and function. Unfortunately, it is also a nutrient that is low in our soils.
Food sources include brazil nuts, mushrooms, egg yolks, wholemeal flour, oats, fish and sesame seeds.
Essential fatty acids
Lowered levels of essential fatty acids have been demonstrated in infertile men. It is very important for the formation of sperm. Food sources include fish, fish oils, flaxseed oil and walnuts.
Please be aware that although many of our required vitamins, minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids, and other constituents are found in food, the physiologic demands of couples during preconception and pregnancy may require extra dietary supplementation.
Always see your doctor, dietitian, registered naturopath or herbalist first about the proper regime for you.