Essential Supplements for Fertility

Supplements, especially in the fertility world, seem like a daunting prospect. There are SO MANY out there to choose from, and so much information (that is sometimes conflicting!) that it can seem overwhelming trying to sort out what would be best to take. So what’s our approach? Personally, I like to keep things simple. My main priority when counseling someone about lifestyle changes is to encourage eating well. In a perfect world, an excellent diet is the foundation of health, and supplements are just filling in the gaps. That being said, we don’t live in a perfect world – so some nutrient supplementation is necessary for almost everyone, especially when trying to conceive.

Here are our favorites:

– An excellent prenatal. If you are currently trying to get pregnant, you should be taking a prenatal! Don’t wait until you get a positive pregnancy test to start taking one. Look for a prenatal that is food-based for optimal absorption, they tend to be more expensive than synthetic vitamins but you get what you pay for! Be sure your prenatal includes B vitamins, especially folate, B6, and B12 (especially important if you have been taking hormonal contraceptives, as long term use of those medications can deplete your B vitamin stores) in addition to magnesium, selenium, iodine, vitamins C and E, and zinc.

– Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is SO common in Minnesota, and the vast majority of the population either isn’t supplementing properly or isn’t supplementing at all to begin with. If you are trying to conceive, Vitamin D deficiency is especially problematic as it has been linked to infertility (click HERE to read an abstract of a study on IVF and Vitamin D) in addition to depression, poor bone health, poor immune function, etc. Take Vitamin D with food – ideally containing some form of fat – for optimal absorption.

– Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are the building blocks of the brain, help to regulate hormones, and act as an anti-inflammatory within the body. Your body needs tremendous amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy (you are, after all, building a human brain from scratch!) and breastfeeding. Start taking fish oil (look for a high-quality brand that is labelled “molecularly distilled” for purity) as soon as you start TTC, and plan to continue through pregnancy and breastfeeding.

– a probiotic. While probiotic foods (raw saurkraut, lacto-fermented pickles, yogurt, kefir, kombucha) should be a part of your daily diet, it’s almost always beneficial to take a probiotic supplement in addition. Probiotics strengthen digestion, increase absorption of nutrients, and prevent the spread of harmful bacteria and infections by balancing our gut flora. There’s not that much research yet on the link between probiotics and fertility, but since probiotics are so essential for overall good health (which is a major sign of fertility) it would be remiss to not include them on a list of our favorites. Be sure to choose a probiotic that is refrigerated and live, it should clearly list the types and quantities of bacteria on the bottle.