Every woman looking to fall pregnant knows to take folate before they start trying. But are you aware that there is so much at stake than this? Fertility outcomes including male and female egg quality are significantly impacted by the vitamin and mineral status of your body. Boosting these levels before you’re pregnant offers better outcomes!
Let’s look at my top 7, starting with…..
Folic Acid (supplemental form of folate) is an essential vitamin for the development of the fetus in early pregnancy. Deficiency is related to defects of the neural tube (brain and spinal cord) in the developing fetus. Most pregnancy multivitamins have enough to protect you. The key is to start taking it before you are pregnant.
Most women generally start pregnancy with insufficient stores. Aim for healthy iron stores (ferritin) before you start IVF or become pregnant. These stores will be tapped into endlessly during pregnancy and post birth recovery. So check your level along the way as iron deficiency may affect your baby’s birth weight and contribute to learning and behavioral problems in children.
Most pregnancy mulitvitamins do not have enough iron so you will need an additional non-constipating iron. Speak to a qualified Naturopath about the best form and dosing.
Deficiency is incredibly common in Australia due to poor dietary intake. The body only requires trace amounts of iodine; however it is essential in pregnancy as the thyroid gland is dependant on iodine to produce thyroid hormones as well as for the healthy development of your baby’s central nervous system.
Iodine deficiency has been linked to increased incidence of miscarriage, stillbirth and birth defects.
Not a well-known fertility nutrient but incredibly beneficial for male and female fertility and IVF support.
Carnitine provides energy to sperm and female eggs. Clinical trials have shown that sperm swim better after taking carnitine and it also acts to protect the sperm from oxidative stress. Carnitine has been found to exert a protective effect on female eggs making it an excellent IVF nutrient to take prior to collection and during the first trimester. Make sure you only take the L-form though; best to speak to a qualified Naturopath about the ideal dose and combination for you. Find out more about carnitine here.
Well known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, Vitamin D is difficult to attain through the diet so best to get it from sun exposure. But with our slip, slop, slap tendency; Vitamin D deficiency is a real concern for many Australians especially Victorian’s through the winter months.
Vitamin D is required for calcium regulation, essential for bone health and a robust immune system. Low Vitamin D levels take a long time to increase, so it’s best to get your levels checked during the pre-conception period and work on boosting them before you are pregnant and continue on through each trimester. Low vitamin D levels in pregnancy also put you at higher risk of pregnancy complicatons such as pre-eclampsia. Find out more about vitamin D here.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Results from studies suggest that a higher pregnancy intake of fish oils is associated with numerous long lasting benefits for the infant ranging from better sleep patterns, attention and learning abilities.
Low omega-3 levels have been associated with Autism spectrum disorders, impaired neurological development in children, pre-term deliveries and low birth weight infants.
It is crucial to only purchase top quality fish oil so watch out for cheap brands and stick with practitioner only fish oil to ensure you are getting the best quality.
Ever noticed any white flecking on you or your partners fingernails? You could be zinc deficient. Most Australians are!
Zinc is like the super mineral for female and male fertility, due to its involvement in making hormones, sperm, healthy DNA of female and male eggs, reducing miscarriage risk, and assisting overall growth and development. Low zinc levels are associated with delaying pregnancy and prolonging labour and no one needs that. So get your levels checked and talk to a qualified Naturopath about how much you may actually need.
Best Bits and Take Home Tips
- Deficiencies and the issues caused by them are completely preventable
- By focusing on nutrient status from pre-conception through to post-pregnancy (including during breastfeeding), you are looking after your own body, and giving your child the best possible start in life.
- Food is the best starting point for nutrition, however good quality supplements that have been scientifically validated have a significant impact during times of increased demand or severe deficiency.
- Using an integrative treatment strategy with your doctor, IVF specialist and natural medicine practitioner, means you have every angle covered.
- Natural medicine and nutritional support during IVF can help improve the quality of your eggs and potential fertilization and viable pregnancy