If you’re trying to conceive, nourishing your body is key. There are a lot of foods that are touted as fertility boosters, but not all of them have been proven effective. That doesn’t mean certain fertility vitamins or nutrients won’t work for you — but it does mean that there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to fertility and nutrition. Here at Oova, we understand that the best approach to fertility is individualized and holistic.
While many of these fertility vitamins and nutrients can be found in everyday foods, individuals trying to get pregnant often need a bit extra support. Fueling your body with the right fertility vitamins and nutrients not only helps you feel your best, but it can also set up for success when trying to conceive. Here are 12 of the best vitamins for fertility.
Folate is a term for a group of B9 vitamins that help with cell growth and fetal development. Folates like folic acid, dihydrofolate (DHF), tetrahydrofolate, and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF) are critical to forming new cells, including those needed to support a viable pregnancy.
Folates are necessary for fetal neural tube development. The neural tube is what eventually becomes the brain and spinal cord.
Folate may also positively affect fertility for women trying to conceive. One study found that participants with higher folate levels in their blood had better outcomes when undergoing assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs).
It's recommended that women trying to conceive take a daily supplement of at least 400 micrograms of folic acid, starting at least one month before conception.
Good sources of folate include:
- Leafy green vegetables (like spinach and kale)
- Legumes (like lentils, beans, chickpeas, peanuts, lima beans, and soybeans)
- Seeds (like sunflower and sesame)
Iron is essential for your body, whether you are actively trying to get pregnant. It helps to create red blood cells that carry oxygen to your tissues and organs, including your reproductive organs.
Not getting enough iron can cause symptoms like fatigue or weakness. Research suggests that iron deficiency may make it harder for you to conceive. The recommended amount of iron depends on a person's age and gender, but it's typically higher for women than men because of monthly blood loss during menstruation.
Good sources of iron include:
- Red meat
- Beans (especially soybeans)
- Spinach or other leafy greens
- Dark green vegetables like broccoli and kale
- Blackstrap molasses (which can be used as a substitute sweetener in baking recipes!)
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps your body fight off free radicals – unstable atoms that can damage cells and DNA. Vitamin C is also important to start taking before conception because it can help your body absorb iron better. Vitamin C helps support healthy skin, teeth, and gums and protects the body from disease.
Good sources of Vitamin C include:
- Citrus fruits (like lemons, grapefruits, and oranges)
- Bell peppers
- Leafy greens
Calcium is a mineral that helps strengthen your bones, teeth, and muscles.
Calcium can support fertility by helping regulate the menstrual cycle and maintain healthy estrogen levels. Research shows that women who consume more calcium may be less likely to experience ovulatory disorders or infertility issues.
Calcium is also necessary for healthy blood clotting and muscle function. During pregnancy, your baby's growing bones require a significant amount of calcium. If you don't get enough of this mineral, the fetus may source calcium from stores in your bones. This can potentially put you at risk of osteoporosis later in life.
Good sources of calcium include:
- Dairy products (like milk and cheese)
- Dark green vegetables (like broccoli and kale)
5. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is important for fertility in both men and women. Women are also at a higher risk for vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy. Supplementing before pregnancy can help ensure your body has sufficient Vitamin D stores before conception.
Vitamin D plays a role in regulating the female reproductive system, supporting proper egg development and cell growth. One study found that men with low vitamin D levels were 20% more likely to be affected by infertility than men with standard levels.
Vitamin D doesn’t occur naturally in many foods, so getting sufficient vitamin D from diet alone is challenging. Many people need to take a supplement just to meet their daily needs.
Good sources of calcium include:
- Fatty fish (like salmon or tuna)
- Orange juice that is fortified with vitamin D
- Dairy and plant milks with added vitamin D
- Beef liver
- Egg yolks
- Cereals fortified with vitamin D
Spending time outside when the sun is out can also help because it produces vitamin D when it hits your skin.
Choline is a nutrient that can be purchased as an over-the-counter supplement. Choline has many health benefits not limited to fertility support. Research has found that choline could have added benefits for people trying to conceive or navigating pregnancy.
Choline can help support healthy fetal development and mitigate symptoms of disorders that affect the endocrine system, like PCOS. One study even found that choline supplementation could help ovarian function by stimulating follicle growth.
Good sources of choline include:
- Red meat
- Egg yolks
- Chicken breasts
- Fish (like tilapia, cod and salmon)
Biotin, also known as Vitamin H, can be a helpful addition to support fertility in both men and women. Biotin can improve the quality of eggs by boosting the function of the mitochondria, the energy centers, in the eggs.
Biotin also helps keep your hormones balanced, which is important for maintaining a regular menstrual cycle and a successful pregnancy. Studies have also shown that in men, biotin can increase sperm count and improve the swimming ability of sperm, making it easier for them to reach and fertilize an egg.
Good sources of biotin include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Eggs (particularly the yolks)
- Nuts and seeds (especially peanuts)
Zinc is an essential mineral that has been shown to play a role in female fertility. It is involved in the regulation of hormones and has a positive impact on egg quality and ovulation.
Zinc also helps maintain the reproductive system's health, including the ovaries and uterus. Zinc has antioxidant properties that help to protect the eggs from oxidative stress, which can also impact ovulation and uterine function.
It can be hard to get enough zinc through diet alone, so supplementation is often recommended.
Good sources of zinc include:
9. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is one of the most extensively researched vitamins in the context of reproductive health. Research has pointed to the benefits of vitamin E for fertility since as early as 1922! In a 1922 study, vitamin E was even referred to as “anti-sterility factor X.”
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant linked to lowering cholesterol levels and even having anticancer properties. One study in 1998 found that a population of women who had experienced repeated miscarriages had decreased levels of vitamin E in their blood. Vitamin E has also been associated with lower rates of pre-eclampsia, premature birth, and fetal growth restriction in-utero.
Vitamin E deficiency can also negatively impact cervical mucus secretion. Furthermore, the study saw that women experiencing infertility had significantly lower levels of vitamin E in their cervical mucus than the control group.
Good sources of vitamin E include:
- Red bell pepper
- Edible oils (like sunflower, soybean, and safflower oil)
- Nuts (specifically almonds and peanuts)
- Greens (especially beet greens, spinach, and collard greens)
Magnesium is an electrolyte involved in a variety of processes in the body, including muscle and nerve function, heart health, and the metabolism of carbohydrates and proteins. The mineral is essential for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body.
Magnesium is known to have significant effects across many stages of women’s reproductive lives. Oral contraceptive use can affect levels of magnesium in the blood. During menopause, having optimal magnesium levels can reduce inflammation symptoms.
Not getting enough magnesium makes it hard for the body to maintain homeostasis or biological balance. Magnesium has also been linked to increased birth weights and lower rates of preeclampsia.
Good sources of magnesium include:
- Nuts (particularly almonds and cashews)
- Black beans
- Brown rice
- Whole grains
Iodine is an essential micronutrient often recommended for women trying to conceive.
Iodine supplement has been found to improve rates of conception in people diagnosed with unexplained infertility. This may be because iodine deficiency can impede thyroid functioning and limit hormone production. Iodine is essential for supporting healthy fetal neurological development. Studies suggest iodine deficiency in mothers may even be linked to complications in babies from low birthweight, preterm birth, and even language development delays later in childhood.
It’s important to talk to your doctor if you are considering an iodine supplement because getting too much iodine could also cause complications. Your doctor can help you make sure you are taking the proper dose.
Good sources of iodine include:
- Dairy products
- Iodized salt
Manganese is a mineral that helps the body metabolize carbohydrates, amino acids, and cholesterol and maintain healthy bones. While the research into manganese’s role in fertility is still limited, early studies indicate that manganese may be beneficial.
One 2007 study found that participants who ate a diet low in manganese had a higher risk of anovulatory cycles. Another study in rats suggested that manganese impacts ovulation by its effect on the brain. In this study, rats that received manganese injections in their brains produced higher levels of luteinizing hormone (LH). LH is a hormone necessary for ovulation.
Good sources of manganese include:
- Whole grains
- Leafy greens
Should I take a fertility vitamin supplement?
While many of these nutrients can be found in food, it can be difficult to get enough through diet alone. This is especially true when you are trying to conceive. Supplements can help fill in the gaps and prepare your body for conception.
Although many women only begin taking a prenatal nutritional supplements after she is pregnant, it is actually more beneficial to begin before trying to conceive. Taking a prenatal supplement 6-12 months before you start trying can give your body time to build up the nutrients necessary to support healthy fetal development and provide the best opportunity of having a healthy pregnancy and delivery.*
It’s important to remember that every woman’s nutritional needs are unique and no nutritional supplement alone can guarantee pregnancy. However, research suggests that having adequate levels of certain nutrients in your blood can improve your chances of conceiving.*
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
Fertility vitamins: Takeaway
When you’re trying to conceive, it’s helpful to figure out a nutritious diet that makes you feel your best. Getting in the right vitamins for fertility can potentially increase your chances of conceiving and support a healthy pregnancy. While many of these vitamins can be found in everyday food, if you’re having trouble getting in the recommended amounts, you can also take supplements. Regardless of how you get your nutrients in, fueling your body with fertility vitamins is a great way to support your conception journey while supporting your overall health.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Which vitamin is best for fertility? There are a variety of fertility vitamins that boost your chances of conceiving, including folates, iron, vitamin C, D, and E, and zinc.
What pregnancy vitamins should I take when trying to conceive? The type of vitamins you take depends on how many fertility vitamins you’re naturally getting in through your typical diet. For example, you can take folic acid or vitamin D supplements if you’re not getting the recommended daily amount in your diet.
What fertility supplements actually work? Folic acid, zinc, vitamin E, and iodine are some fertility vitamins that have helped lead to conception and healthy pregnancy. You can add these vitamins within your diet or take them as supplements (be sure to consult a healthcare professional for the latter).
Do fertility vitamins really work? Like certain foods, there are many fertility vitamins that may or may not work for you. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to the right vitamins for fertility, but some nutrients and supplements may support your conception journey.
Which vitamin fights against infertility? People who consume more calcium may be less likely to deal with infertility problems or ovulatory disorders. Iodine has been proved to increase rates of conception for those with infertility issues.
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