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How Does Nutrition Affect Fertility?

Apr. 15, 2014|1018 views


Some of you have wondered if there are specific foods or nutrients that are beneficial to fertility. In a broad sense, you are what you eat. And so is your baby. A healthy diet that’s good for you is likely to be good for your chances of conceiving. And good for your baby. That said, though, there are some specific foods—and dietary recommendations—you may want to incorporate into your diet to promote reproductive health and boost your chances of conceiving and giving birth to a healthy baby.

1) Choose organic. Buy organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible. Organic foods contain fewer potentially harmful chemicals, such as pesticides and herbicides. Some of these chemicals have been shown to affect human reproductive health. Organic produce often contains significantly higher concentrations of natural plant compounds that you won’t find listed on nutrition information labels, too. These phytonutrients may not be listed, but they matter. Think resveratrol in grapes, or glucosinolates in broccoli. These chemicals are highly beneficial in the human body—and they’re generally more concentrated in organically-raised produce. Antioxidants tend to be higher in organic produce, too, and that could affect fertility. Research suggests that a lack of antioxidants in the diet can result in a state of oxidative stress. And that’s believed to be bad for fertility and reproductive health. 

2) Eat organic or wild cold-water fish at least once a week. These kinds of fish contain significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids; essential nutrients that are extremely important for everyone, but especially for pregnant women and their growing babies. Babies’ brains need a constant supply of these crucial nutrients to grow and develop properly. Omega-3s in the mother’s diet ensure “optimal brain and retinal maturation,” according to a recent report entitled “DHA Supplementation: Current Implications in Pregnancy and Childhood.” 

3) Buy free-range and/or grass-fed/organic meat and poultry. Factory farmed meat is extremely inexpensive in the United States, compared to much to the rest of the world. Part of the reason for that is the use of questionable farming practices here, such as adding hormones and antibiotics to animals’ feed. These synthetic chemicals can boost growth unnaturally, but at a cost. You may be paying the price with your health. 

4) Check your vitamin D levels. A majority of women who are infertile have abnormally low vitamin D levels. Research suggests that vitamin D plays a role in proper embryo implantation. Other research suggest that men with normal vitamin D levels are more likely to have better semen quality, sperm count, and sperm motility. Evidence suggests vitamin D supplementation may improve male fertility. During pregnancy, a woman’s demand for vitamin D increases, due to rapid bone growth by the fetus.

Anagnostis P1, Karras S, Goulis DG.Vitamin D in human reproduction: a narrative
review.Int J Clin Pract. 2013 Mar;67(3):225-35. doi: 10.1111/ijcp.12031. Epub 2013 Jan

Tags:  health tips, pregnancy, vitamin d