Making the decision to have a baby is an exciting time - some babies come unexpected but others are harder to create. Whatever the case preconception health is important - there are many key nutrients and vitamins important for fertility and pregnancy.
It is very important that your body is prepared for pregnancy - studies have shown that vitamins can improve fertility in men and women. Certain nutrients and vitamins are vital in maintaining healthy ovulation and sperm production. Studies have shown that specific vitamins high in anti - oxidants improve sperm function by decreasing the DNA fragmentation. Ovulation can be affected by deficiencies in essentially fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin B6, zinc, magnesium and anti-oxidants result in an imbalance in hormone production and makes conception less likely.
Make sure you and your husband take a healthy eating habit prior to conception – avoid smoking, excessive alcohol and taking recreational drugs. You should be at your ideal weight - being overweight affects ovulation and sperm production and being underweight affects ovulation and hence chances to conceive.
Prior to conception a pregnancy formulae should be taken to ensure adequate vitamin and nutrient are readily available to the body for healthy ovulation and sperm production resulting in a healthy foetus. Folic acid is a vital ingredient and needs to be take prior to conception to help lower the risk of spina bifida also iodine and fish oil are important in the development for the babies brain.
AMINO ACIDS play a vital role in sperm and oocyte production
VITAMIN A (BETACAROTENE) essential for producing male and female hormones for reproduction - the corpus luteum - the follicle post ovulation that produces progesterone has the highest amount of vitamin A. It is important for progesterone production, cycle regularity and early pregnancy. Excessive doses more than …… a day can however be linked to foetal abnormalities.
B vitamins are very important in fertility (especially B6, folate and B 12) these are water-soluble and many lost in urine. Lifestyle such as stress and alcohol consumption can reduce its absorption. B vitamins are important for brain and spinal cord developments and balance sex hormone production.
Vitamin B1 - this vitamin has been linked to failed ovulation and implantation. Sources are molasses, yeast, whole grains, nuts, brown rice, egg yolks, fish poultry pulses and seeds.
Vitamin b2 (riboflavin) - this vitamin is linked to sterility miscarriage and low birth weight. Food sources are the same as B1.
VITAMIN B 5 (PANTHOTHENIC ACID) - important at time of conception for foetal development – sources are salmon, wheat germ, sweet potatoes, broccoli, oranges, pecans cashews and strawberries.
VITAMIN B6 - essential for sex hormones and proper functioning of the ovaries for oestrogen and progesterone production. Sources include green leafy vegetables and zinc containing foods help absorption.
VITAMIN B 12 - together with folic acid is important for DNA and RNA synthesis. It is essential for the uptake of folic acid into cells and for foetal brain development. It is often deficient in vegetarians - animal products such as sardines, salmon and lamb are rich in vitamin b12. Vegetarians will need to take supplementation.
FOLATE - woman planning pregnancy should have at least 400mcg of folic acid for 3 months prior to conception to reduce the risk of developing neural tube defects. Good food sources are green leafy vegetables. Vitamin C aids absorption.
VITAMIN E - important vitamin for ovulation and has been linked to decreasing the risk of miscarriage. Used with selenium and vitamin c can help to maintain a healthy endomdometrium.
Low levels of iron can affect fertility and increase miscarriage rate. Food sources rich in iron are lean meat and organ meats, eggs fish and poultry green leafy vegetables such as spinach kelp, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Tea, coffee and smoking decrease absorption.
A decrease in magnesium results in female infertility and possibly increase risk of miscarriage, this tends to be low in the common western diet. Food sources rich in magnesium are kelp, green leafy vegetables, tofu, bananas and brown rice.
Deficiencies can result in association with female infertility and miscarriage - sources include tuna, wheat germ and bran.
Manganese deficiency can lead o defective ovulation - foods rich in this are whole grains and leafy vegetables, carrots and finger.
Is important for healthy ovulation and sperm production and maintenance of the menstrual function. It is important for growth and cell division in a foetus. Good sources are lean meat, fish, seafood, chicken, eggs, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
COENZYME Q 10
This is a fat-soluble substance that is important in energy production. It is an important for sperm and oocyte production. It is contained within every cell.
ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS
These are important as hormone regulators.
Omega - 3 EFAs have an important derivative of DHA and are important for the babies’ brain development - it is important to take this for 3 months prior to conception as it takes time to incorporate it into human tissue. Food sources of omega 3 EFAs are linseeds and oily fish, walnuts and green leafy vegetables. Tuna is one of the bet sources but mercury levels are high and hence it is advised to not eat more than 2 portions a week. Supplements are however screened for toxins and purified.
Important for production of thyroid hormones essential for healthy brain development.
VITAMIN B 3
Important for energy production and production of hormones.
Important for healthy sperm production, it is a B complex component and it helps in folic acid production by intestinal bacteria, red cell production and processing of proteins.