by Teresa J. Mitchell
Good nutrition contributes to fertility. A healthy diet rich in nutrients, can furnish the vitamins and minerals needed for baby-making.
For some of us, our diet doesn't or can't supply everything needed for optimal male and female fertility.
Some over-the-counter supplements claim to improve you and your partners overall health.
Other groups of supplements are said to help balance your hormones. Then there are nutritional supplements that might help your body deal with harmful chemicals found in food and around your home.
This list of nutritional supplements appear regularly in fertility literature. Could one of these shorten your trying to conceive journey? [Editor's note: Before starting any program or consuming any supplements, always consult your healthcare provider.]
Folic acid helps prevent spinal cord defects in your baby, and that's not all. It's part of the B-complex family of vitamins that work together to produce the genetic materials DNA.
Zinc is the most widely studied nutrient in terms of fertility for men and women. It's needed to make the outer layer and tail of the sperm. Several studies show that reducing zinc in a man's diet will also reduce his sperm count.1
Selenium helps to protect your body from reactive chemical fragments called free radicals. It might reduce chromosome breakage, a cause of birth defects and miscarriages.2
Good levels of selenium seem essential for sperm formation. Blood selenium levels have been found to be lower in men with low sperm counts.
These essential fats effect every system of the body, including the reproductive system. According to Kim L. Corbett, B.Eng., N.D. Montreal, Quebec, these good fats effect the flow of blood to the uterus and can improve communication between the pituitary gland and ovaries.
Men with low sperm counts who take vitamin E may have a higher rate of fertilization according to a University of Surrey study. Why? The antioxidant activity of vitamin E might make the sperm more fertile.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant. Studies show that vitamin C enhances sperm quality, which helps protect sperm and the DNA within it, from damage. It appears to keep the sperm from clumping together making them more motile.
Studies further suggest that supplementing with vitamin C might improve fertility in women who have ovulation disorders. Other researchers indicate that women taking clomiphene have a better chance of ovulating when taking vitamin C.3
Chasteberry works to increase fertility by stimulating the pituitary gland. This is the gland responsible for producing sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Chasteberry might help fertility by balancing the sex hormones.
This Chinese fertility herb is used to solve menstrual difficulties. It's said to help balance estrogen levels in the body and improve chances of implantation.
"Good nutrition can help boost fertility. There's reason to believe that fertility supplements could help some woman conceive," says Dr. Lynn Westphal, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford University School of Medicine.
She acknowledges that some couples will need more help than can come from a supplement. If you're over 35 and have been trying for at least six months she suggests seeing your doctor.
Have you turned to supplements as a fertility aid? We'd love to hear about it.
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