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Improve Your Fertility With Vitamin C

Improve Your Fertility With Vitamin C

Acerola cherries are one of the best naturally occurring sources of vitamin C.  Just 3.5 oz, contains 1300mg of vitamin C!

Acerola cherries are one of the best naturally occurring sources of vitamin C. Just 3.5 oz, contains 1300mg of vitamin C!

Vitamin C has been shown through several studies to play an important role in hormonal balance, sperm health, immunity, and pregnancy. If you have been struggling to get pregnant, learn how vitamin C can increase your chance of conception. Vitamin C supplementation may improve your fertility and increase your chances of conception in as little as 2 months. Learn how…

Improve and Protect Sperm Health

Vitamin C has been shown to improve sperm quality and protect sperm from DNA damage, helping to reduce the chance of miscarriage and chromosomal defects. Vitamin C protects sperm from oxidative damage due to free radicals.

Studies show that vitamin C deficiency has been linked to low sperm count, poor sperm motility, and morphology. Vitamin C is necessary to not only ensure healthy sperm, but to support them in getting where they need to go.

One 2013 study published in the Journal of Andrology showed a marked improvement in sperm health in men who had previously failed fertility treatments due to a high number of sperm with DNA fragmentation. The researchers from the Centre for Reproductive Medicine, European Hospital, Rome, Italy found that just 2 months of supplementation with both vitamin C and E at one gram a day of each lead to decreased DNA fragmentation in sperm and improved implantation and successful pregnancy rates.

A study performed in 1991 showed that ascorbic acid (a form of vitamin C) levels are much higher in seminal fluid compared to other fluids in the human body, including blood. The study publishes in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences also showed that, in healthy male subjects, reduction in vitamin C levels can be detrimental to sperm health. When dietary vitamin C was reduced from 250mg to just 5mg a day, ascorbic acid levels in the male subject’s seminal fluid reduced by 50%, and the number of sperm cells that had damage to their DNA increased by 91%. These results indicate the importance of dietary vitamin C in preventing infertility in men.

That isn’t all; vitamin C supplementation has also been shown to increase the quality of sperm in smokers and reduce sperm agglutination (when they clump together), making them more motile.

Vitamin C Plays A Role In Ovulation And Egg Health

Researchers have shown that ascorbic acid plays an important role in the regulation of the menstrual cycle and ovarian function. Ascorbic acid excretion is increased and declines immediately prior to ovulation, and then immediately increases again just after temperature rises post-ovulation. Researchers speculate this reflects uptake of ascorbic acid in the preovulatory ovary, which then facilitates proper ovulation. These ascorbic acid levels are stimulatory to the hormones progesterone and oxytocin, and have been found in high concentrations in the corpus luteum.

High levels of ascorbic acid present in the ovaries may be responsible for collagen synthesis, which is required for follicle and corpus luteum growth, as well as repair of the ovary post-ovulation. Problems with this function may contribute to the development of ovarian cysts.

Ascorbic acid has also been shown in animal studies to greatly impact the integrity of the follicle membrane and wall. Other research has shown a correlation between serum ascorbic acid levels and follicular fluid levels in women undergoing IVF at the time of oocyte recovery (Society for the Study of Reproduction journal Biology of Reproduction). To me this clearly shows that adequate intake of vitamin C is essential for maintaining a healthy menstrual cycle and maintaining or improving egg health.

Increased Pregnancy Rate for Women With Luteal Phase Defect

According to a study published in Fertility and Sterility (2003;80:459–61), vitamin C improves hormone levels and increases fertility in women with luteal phase defect.

150 women with luteal phase defect were enrolled in the study. The participants were given 750mg of vitamin C per day or no treatment at all.

Results showed that the group receiving vitamin C had an increase in progesterone levels. While the women receiving no treatment had no change in progesterone.

The rate of pregnancy was significantly higher in the vitamin C group: 25% within six months, while only 11% of the untreated women became pregnant in the same time period.

Other Female Reproductive Health Issues That May Benefit From Vitamin C Supplementation

Reduction In Heavy Menstrual Bleeding

Vitamin C supplementation has been shown to help reduce heavy menstrual bleeding by improving the strength of the capillaries. One study showed that heavy menstrual bleeding was reduced in 88% women who regularly supplemented with higher doses of vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential for iron absorption to help prevent iron-deficiency anemia caused by heavy menstrual bleeding.

Dr. Tori Hudson, ND suggests a therapeutic dose of 2000-4000mg per day to help curb heavy menstrual bleeding.

Support for Endometriosis and Uterine Fibroids

Studies show that vitamin C increases cellular immunity and decreases autoimmune progression and fatigue. This may help slow the spread and growth of endometriosis and uterine fibroids. Vitamin C enhances immunity, strengthens the capillaries, and may inhibit tumor growth, all of which are important aspects for health management of these conditions.

Vitamin C Is Necessary for a Healthy Pregnancy

Vitamin C supplementation, in addition to a healthy, vitamin C rich diet, has been shown to reduce the likelihood of preeclampsia and premature rupture of the membranes in pregnancy. Large quantities of ascorbic acid are utilized by the female during conception and are necessary to formation and integrity of the fetal membranes. Research suggests vitamin C supplementation may also help prevent birth defects.

How to Get Enough Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a nutrient that is sensitive to cooking, processing, and exposure to air, so it important to get it from eating fresh, raw foods. Did you know that as soon as you cut into foods rich in vitamin C they begin to rapidly lose their vitamin C content? Eat foods rich in vitamin C as quickly as possible to ensure you are receiving optimum levels of vitamin C. If you don’t believe me, consider these examples: Research shows that a sliced cucumber left standing for 3 hours loses 41 to 49% of its vitamin C content. A sliced cantaloupe left uncovered in the refrigerator loses 35% of its vitamin C content in less than a 24-hour period.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant. Antioxidants work like a defense system, disarming free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cell structures. In order for individual antioxidants to do their job, they rely on “sister” antioxidants to help revive them. Antioxidants “quench” free radicals, so they are not able to spread and cause damage to cells. When an antioxidant finds a free radical, it engulfs it and melds into its molecular structure. This creates a weakened free radical, not strong enough to do any harm. At this point that particular antioxidant is sacrificed unless its “sister” antioxidant comes along and revives it. Vitamin C is regenerated by vitamin E, CoQ10, and Lipoic Acid.

Foods rich in vitamin C (and should be eaten raw) are: Acerola cherries, guava, mustard greens, parsley, persimmons, papaya, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, oranges, kiwifruit, cauliflower, kale, elderberries, spinach, red cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, and citrus fruit.

In addition to eating raw foods rich in vitamin C it is important to consider taking a nutritional supplement that includes vitamin C such as an antioxidant blend and whole food multivitamin.

Suggested daily supplementation: In addition to a healthy whole foods diet rich in vitamin C, the Harvard School of Public Health shares, “The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults 19 years and older is 90 mg daily for men and 75 mg for women. For pregnancy and lactation, the amount increases to 85 mg and 120 mg daily, respectively.”

  • Cohen, J Rubin H. “Functional menorrhagia: treatment with bioflavonoids and vitamin C.” Curr Therap Res 1960; 2 (11): 539
  • Vitamin C. (n.d.). Harvard School of Public Health. Retrieved from
  • Anderson, R. (1984). The Immunostimulatory, Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Allergic Properties of Ascorbate. Advances in Nutritional Research, 19-45. doi:10.1007/978-1-4613-2801-8_2
  • Greco, E. (2005). Reduction of the Incidence of Sperm DNA Fragmentation by Oral Antioxidant Treatment. Journal of Andrology, 26(3), 349-353. doi:10.2164/jandrol.04146 Retrieved from:
  • Fraga, C. G., Motchnik, P. A., Shigenaga, M. K., Helbock, H. J., Jacob, R. A., & Ames, B. N. (1991). Ascorbic acid protects against endogenous oxidative DNA damage in human sperm. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 88(24), 11003-11006. doi:10.1073/pnas.88.24.11003 Retrieved from:
  • Luck, M. R., Jeyaseelan, I., & Scholes, R. A. (1995). Ascorbic acid and fertility. Biology of Reproduction, 52(2), 262-266. doi:10.1095/biolreprod52.2.262 Retrieved from:
  • Henmi, H., Endo, T., Kitajima, Y., Manase, K., Hata, H., & Kudo, R. (2003). Effects of ascorbic acid supplementation on serum progesterone levels in patients with a luteal phase defect. Fertility and Sterility, 80(2), 459-461. doi:10.1016/s0015-0282(03)00657-5 Retrieved from:
  • Rodriguez, H., C.H., C.M.T. (n.d.). Antioxidants and Fertility. Retrieved from:
  • Murray, N.D., Michael T., Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements. Three Rivers Press, 59-79, 1996
  • Hudson, N.D. Tori, Women’s Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. McGraw Hill, 2008
Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN
Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN

Dr. Traxler is a University-trained obstetrician/gynecologist, working with patients in Minnesota for over 20 years. She is a professional medical writer; having authored multiple books on pregnancy and childbirth; textbooks and coursework for medical students and other healthcare providers; and has written over 1000 articles on medical, health, and wellness topics.  Dr. Traxler attended the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences and University of Minnesota Medical School,  earning a degree in biochemistry with summa cum laude honors in 1981,  and receiving her Medical Doctorate degree (MD) in 1986.

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  1. Avatar

    I’m wondering how much Vitamin C is too much during the follicular phase. My pre-ovulation bbt runs a bit high (usually 97.7-98.0), and I found that 6 grams of Vitamin C helps lower them (~97.7). But I this dose might make my body too acidic and not ideal for sperm during ovulation. I can’t ever get my temps to be ideal during ovulation (97.2-97.4) and think it’ll be impossible to get pregnant. How much Vitamin C should I take to keep my temps lower? Can recommend anything to help with my temps to keep them lower in general? I’m concerned about taking herbs like Vitex because I had a bad experience with other supplements/herbs in the past. So I don’t know if that will be good for me. Thanks

    • Dear Shalar,

      To be honest, I am not sure anyone knows how much vitamin C is too much during the follicular phase. 6 grams may not be too acidic for you, I can not know this. The body simply metabolizes and excretes any excess vitamin C that is does not need.

      In general, I know the average range for BBT during the follicular phase should be around or between 97.2° to 97.8°. Elevated BBT in the follicular phase can indicate:
      – a fertility health issue or other health issue where inflammation is involved
      – elevated follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) or progesterone levels
      – poor ovarian reserve

      Have you learned any of these are issues for you? It will helpful to understand potential causes in order to create a natural fertility program.

    • Avatar

      Thanks Elizabeth. Both myself and DH were checked out and we are fine. My AMH, FSH, etc. were all fine. I’ve been charting for about 3 months and noticed my bbt run higher during the follicular phase. I also have a slow rise of progesterone during my luteal phase. I’m not sure why this is happening though. I brought up the slow rise progesterone issue with my doctor, but she didn’t seem concerned and wanted to prescribe me Clomid. I’m not opposed to medications, but I want to make sure my menstrual cycle health is optimal before going that route. I’m just having a hard time figuring out what’s going on with me and why my temps run high.

    • Dear Shalar,

      It could simply be that this is just the way you are and there is nothing wrong. Are you ovulating monthly and on or near the same day each cycle? I’m curious why Clomid was suggested.

    • Avatar

      Hi Elizabeth, Yes I am ovulating regularly (usually around CD 13 – 15). The doctor wanted to prescribe Clomid because of my age. I’m 36 years old and we’ve been trying off and on for 7 months now.

    • Hello Shalar!

      While I understand that, it may be best to reconsider this approach if you are ovulating on your own. Our guide Clomid: Natural Alternatives to Clomid shares why and information for consideration.

      So, now I am left wondering if you are sleeping at least 5 hours a night and this is uninterrupted sleep and if you are taking your BBT at the same time each morning (or very near the same time each day). Then, I know you mentioned you had testing, but have you had a full thyroid panel run. There is some belief that elevated BBT can indicate an overactive thyroid (hyerthyroid). Consider talking with your healthcare provider if your thyroid has not been checked.

      Lastly, vitamin C at the recommended daily allowance is not known to make the blood acidic, but more than that can make the urine acidic. The tolerable upper intake level is 2,000 milligrams per day is my understanding and it is not suggested to take more than that without the support of or being monitored by your healthcare provider.

  2. Avatar

    Dear Elizabeth,
    The article I referred to is:
    Under the section I believe titled What Not To Do!


    • Hello Jenny!

      Thank you!

      The foods shared in the article about hypothyroidism are best not eaten raw if underactive thyroid function is a concern. So, if you have hypothyroidism, steam or gently cook raw cruciferous vegetables.

      I hope that helps!

  3. Avatar

    Fabulous article, thank You! But I do have one question. Several of the vegetables listed appear on lists (in other articles) as foods that should NOT be eaten raw, sorry but any suggestions on how to deal with this conflicting advice?