When you begin trying to get pregnant you hear from many different sources that it is a good idea to begin using a prenatal multivitamin before you become pregnant. There are now studies backing this advice. Multivitamins serve as a type of “back up” plan to our diets. While eating a healthy fertility diet is of the utmost importance, it is always a good idea to include a whole food prenatal multivitamin in your program as well.
“A study from Harvard Medical school involving 18,000 women has shown that taking multi vitamins, particularly folic acid, can improve chances of pregnancy…” ~ Matt Ronan, co-founder and director of Pillar Healthcare
That Nurses’ Health Study II followed 18,555 married, premenopausal women (no history of infertility) who had hoped to get pregnant for an eight year period. Women who took their multivitamin six times a week were 40% less likely to fail to ovulate than women who took none. (Fertility and Sterility)
The Importance of Nutrients for Fertility & Pregnancy
Nutrition plays a big role in having healthy fertility and experiencing a healthy pregnancy. Nutritional deficiencies have been linked to ovulation issues, hormonal imbalances, poor egg health, low sperm count and so much more. We are literally what we eat. Every cell in our bodies that make up our organs, create hormones and enzymes that make us function and these are created by the nutrients we take in through the food we eat. If this is being compromised due to a poor diet or poor digestion the side effects could affect fertility.
Did you know that there are specific nutrients like folic acid that are needed by the young fetus before you can even detect pregnancy, and a deficiency in this nutrient could cause serious birth defects? Another example is iron, iron deficiency has been linked to lack of ovulation.
So, nutrition does play a big role in our health, fertility, and in pregnancy. Taking a whole food multivitamin daily can help to fill the gaps where diets may be falling short.
Do You Need to Take a Multivitamin?
|Ask yourself these questions
Important Nutrients for Fertility
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is needed to help the body create sex hormones which in turn affects ovulation and hormonal balance. Yale University School of Medicine conducted a study of 67 infertile women, where it was discovered that a mere 7% had normal Vitamin D levels.
Vitamin E: This nutrient has been shown in studies to improve sperm health and motility in men. Studies have also shown a diet deficient in Vitamin E to be a cause of infertility in rats. The meaning of the name for vitamin E, ‘Tocopherol’, literally means to bear young. Vitamin E is also an important antioxidant to help protect sperm and egg DNA integrity.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C improves hormone levels and increases fertility in women with luteal phase defect, according to a study published in Fertility and Sterility. As for men, vitamin C has been shown to improve sperm quality and protect sperm from DNA damage, helping to reduce the chance of miscarriage and chromosomal problems. Vitamin C also appears to keep sperm from clumping together, making them more motile.
“A study published in Fertility and Sterility, states that vitamin C improves hormone levels and increases fertility in women with luteal phase defect.”
B6: Vitamin B6 may be used as a hormone regulator. It also helps to regulate blood sugars, alleviates PMS, and may be useful in relieving symptoms of morning sickness. B6 has also been shown to help with Luteal Phase Defect.
B12: Vitamin B12 has been shown to improve sperm quality and production. It also may help to boost the endometrial lining in egg fertilization, decreasing the chances of miscarriage. Some studies have found that a deficiency of B12 may increase the chances of irregular ovulation, and in severe cases can stop ovulation altogether.
Folic Acid: Perhaps one of the best-known vitamins necessary for pregnancy is folic acid. This vitamin helps prevent neural tube defects as well as congenital heart defects, cleft lips, limb defects, and urinary tract anomalies in developing fetuses. Deficiency in folic acid may increase the risk of going into preterm labor, or having low infant birth weight and fetal growth retardation. Deficiency may also increase the homocysteine levels in the blood, which can lead to spontaneous abortion and pregnancy complications, such as placental abruption and preeclampsia.
Iron: Studies have shown that women who do not get sufficient amounts of iron may suffer anovulation (lack of ovulation) and possibly poor egg health, which can inhibit pregnancy at a rate 60% higher than those with sufficient iron stores in their blood, according to researchers from Nova IVI Fertility Centre and Jaya College of Arts and Sciences in India, as published in 2014 in the International Journal of Current Research and Academic Review.
In their book The Fertility Diet, Jorge Chavarro, MD and Walter C. Willett, MD reveal, from the landmark Nurses’ Health Study, research proving that food can boost fertility. About iron in particular, Chavarrio and Willett share,
“In a study of women who were having ovulation problems, 40% became fertile after supplementing with iron.”
Selenium: This antioxidant helps to protect the eggs and sperm from free radicals. Free radicals can cause chromosomal damage which is known to be a cause of miscarriages and birth defects. Selenium is also necessary for the creation of sperm. In studies, men with low sperm counts have also been found to have low levels of selenium.
Zinc: In women, zinc works with more than 300 different enzymes in the body to keep things working well. Without it, your cells can not divide properly; your estrogen and progesterone levels can get out of balance and your reproductive system may not be fully functioning. In 2011, scientists from the University of Granada, Spain linked low levels of zinc to miscarriage in the early stages of a pregnancy.
What to Look for in a Multivitamin
If you are going to take the time and spend the money on a prenatal multivitamin, you should make sure you are getting the best you can. There is a big difference between quality of different multivitamins and the body’s ability to breakdown, assimilate, and utilize the nutrients. The best type of prenatal multivitamin is one that is made from whole foods. This will be easier for your body to breakdown and use since it is closer to food than synthesized vitamins.
So forget about those cheap, low-cost bottles of multivitamins you might find at the wholesale clubs, pharmacies or grocery stores and stick to a whole food preconception multivitamin for the best results.
Also, make sure that the multivitamin you choose contains the essential fertility nutrients mentioned above. One last thing, men need to be taking a whole food multivitamin as well, since the male partner will be making up half of the child! The health of his sperm is greatly impacted by the nutrients he is consuming daily.
- Chavarro, J.E., M.D. Sc.D., Rich Edwards, J.W., Sc.D., M.P.H., Rosner, B.A., Ph.D., Willett,W., M.D., Dr. P.H. Use of multivitamins, intake of B vitamins, and risk of ovulatory infertility. Fertility and Sterility: Vol. 89, Issue 3, March 2008, pp 668676.doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2007.03.089 Retrieved from: https://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(07)00828-X/fulltext
- Sasikumar, S., Shyam Sundar, J., Dakshayani, D., Prabavathy, R. and Karthika, M. (2014). A study on significant biochemical changes in the serum of infertile women. Int. J. Curr. Res. Aca. Rev. 2(2): 96-115. Retrieved from: http://www.ijcrar.com/vol-2-2/S.Sasikumar,%20et%20al.pdf
- Hirofumi Henmi, MDa, Toshiaki Endo, MDa, Yoshimitsu Kitajima, MDa, Kengo Manase, MDa,Hiroshi Hata, MDb, Ryuich Kudo, MDa. Effects of ascorbic acid supplementation on serum progesterone levels in patients with a luteal phase defect. Fertility and Sterility: Vol. 80, Issue 2,Aug. 2003, pp 45946.1doi:10.1016/S00150282(03)006575 Retrieved from: https://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(03)00657-5/fulltext
- Vézina, D., Mauffette, F., Roberts, K. D., & Bleau, G. (1996). Selenium vitamin E supplementation in infertile men. Biological Trace Element Research, 53(13), 6583. Retrieved from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02784546
- Keskes-Ammar, L., FekiChakroun, N., Rebai, T., Sahnoun, Z., Ghozzi, H., Hammami, S., … & Bahloul, A. (2003). Sperm oxidative stress and the effect of an oral vitamin E and selenium supplement on semen quality in infertile men. Systems Biology in Reproductive Medicine, 49(2),8394. Retrieved from: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01485010390129269
- Pal, L., Berry, A., Coraluzzi, L., Kustan, E., Danton, C., Shaw, J., & Taylor, H. (2012).Therapeutic implications of vitamin D and calcium in overweight women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Gynecological Endocrinology, 28(12), 965968. Retrieved from: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/09513590.2012.696753
- Murray, Michael T., N.D. (1996). Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements The Essential Guide for Improving Your Health Naturally; Vitamin E: pp. 4453. New York: Three Rivers Press.
- University of Granada. (9/28/2011). Low zinc and copper levels might cause spontaneous abortion. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110928105859.htm