Six key nutrients for women when trying to conceive include:
- Healthy Fats
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
Calcium is important when you are trying to conceive as it helps build strong bones and teeth. Research has shown that it also plays an important role in creating the right environment for the sperm to successfully reach the egg. Calcium is most commonly found in dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese.
Folate helps prepare the body for conception by producing healthy eggs and sperm. It can also reduce the risk of your baby having a neural tube defect, such as spina bifida. A neural tube defect is when the foetus’ spinal cord (part of the body’s nervous system) doesn’t form correctly.
Folate is found naturally in leafy greens such as kale, spinach and broccoli as well as legumes and orange juice. It can also be found in certain fortified breakfast cereals and bread.
Folate is often supplemented surrounding the time of pregnancy using Folic Acid. Don’t worry if you get pregnant unexpectedly and weren’t taking folic acid supplements. Start taking them as soon as you find out, until you’re past the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Essential fatty acids such as omega-3 are vital for healthy reproductive organs. These fats also help regulate hormone levels, improve sperm quality and the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins D and E. These healthy fats are found in oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines or fresh tuna (aim for two portions a week), flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds and nuts.
One of the eight B vitamins, B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that helps your brain and nervous system function. B12 is only found in animal based food such as salmon, red meat, chicken, and eggs. Vitamin B12 deficiency has been associated with infertility as it may interfere with ovulation or normal cell division.
Low levels of Vitamin D during pregnancy can affect the growth and development of a baby. As our exposure to natural sunlight is reduced significantly during winter, it is very important that your diet includes oily fish such as salmon, eggs and meat. Worryingly, Vitamin D deficiency can sometimes lead to temporary infertility. As it can be difficult to get enough Vitamin D through your diet, you could consider a Vitamin D supplement.
Iron deficiency is the number one deficiency for women in the world, and few women are aware of iron’s connection with their fertility and pregnancy complications. Studies have shown that women who do not get sufficient amounts of iron may suffer from lack of ovulation and possibly poor egg health, which inhibits pregnancy.
Written by Hannah Kingston | Approved by Medical Director Dominic Rowley