Prenatal Multi: Nutrients to boost your fertility

Now that you are trying for a baby, you know that you need to up your game with what you eat.  Not only are you what you eat and digest, but more importantly, your baby is a reflection of what you digest too.

Sure, you might eat a “healthy diet” and meet the Recommended Daily Intakes (RDIs) for some individual nutrients but unfortunately, most of these are quite dated and set to prevent such diseases as scurvy; they don’t take into account the toxicity in our environment or the stress of our busy lifestyles today.

Nor do they take into account the demands of having a healthy baby. It has been shown that taking certain nutrients in a prenatal multi at a level higher than what you can get from foods can help boost your chances of successfully falling pregnant and carrying a baby full-term.

There’s heaps of research that has been done showing that nutrient deficiencies are linked to low sperm count, poor sperm quality, DNA damaged sperm, poor egg quality, ovulation dysfunction and hormonal issues and much more.  All the health issues that can stop you from getting pregnant.

That’s why I recommend a good quality prenatal multi-vitamin and mineral for BOTH mumma and dad, specifically formulated for fertility which you can find here. There’s a whopping difference between the quality of the MyGen brand available here and the regular prenatal ones that you can buy in the high street; often the latter don’t have the right forms of nutrients that your body is able to absorb and/or contain extra ingredients that your body can’t break down or utilise. And as I said above, additionally most of these only have small amounts of each nutrient.

Some of the key fertility nutrients to look out for are:

For the female, zinc affects the quality of the egg and ovulation.  We women are also susceptible to cracked nipples, perineal tears, stretch marks, prolonged labour and hair loss if our zinc levels are low during pregnancy.  Who wants to put up with any of them?!  Zinc deficiency during pregnancy may lead to an increased chance of post-natal depression.

For the male: low zinc is linked to poor sperm count and lower testosterone and I’m sure you don’t need me to explain why they’re so important!

For the baby: to help minimize pregnancy complications and have a baby with a healthier birth weight.  Zinc is paramount when it comes to cell division and DNA synthesis, which occurs at an amazing rate once a sperm fertilises an egg; in the first 3 months the new foetus increases by an amazing 2.5 million times compared to a “mere” 230 times in each of the subsequent semesters.

For the female, folate is needed for ovulation and is crucial for the early cell-division in an embryo.  May also lead to increased risk of high blood pressure and/or pre-enclampsia. Research has shown a strong link between a deficiency of folate and recurrent miscarriages.

For the male: folate has been shown to increase sperm count which is good news considering that sperm counts have halved in the last 50 years; many males have less than 20 million which is way below the “normal” range of 40 to 300 million.

For the baby: not only may folate deficiency cause premature birth or low birth weight but more importantly, there may be an increased risk of neural tube defects which affects almost 1 in every 500 babies in Australia.

You may have heard of the MTHFR gene and how it can affect your fertility. If you haven’t, check back as I’ll be writing more about MHFR/folate shortly.

For the female: helps with quality of the egg and generally provides antioxidant support throughout the reproductive tract.

For the male: low selenium has been shown to reduce sperm motility and hence their ability to reach the egg and to fertilise it. As an antioxidant it helps to reduce damage to the sperm.  A selenium deficiency has also been shown to negatively impact sperm maturation.

For the baby: a selenium defiency has been linked to an increased risk of birth defects.

For the female: helps aid the maturation of the ovarian follicle which is home to the developing egg plus supports hormonal balance.

For the male: Vitamin C is 10 times more concentrated in the semen than the blood which gives an idea of how important this vitamin is for fertility. It helps lessen DNA damage in the sperm, stops them clumping together so they can swim more freely towards the egg and increase sperm concentration.

For the baby: helps prevent the premature rupture of membranes of the amniotic sac.

So whilst I’ve only touched on a few individual nutrients, you can see how important a good quality prenatal multivitamin & mineral complex are for you.  Don’t wait until you’re pregnant to start taking them; start as soon as you can to help strengthen your body BEFORE becoming pregnant AND, as the health of dad is crucial too, make sure he takes some too!