Without an adequate supply of nutrients the body is unable to function properly. This can compromise health and vitality. Reproductive processes also rely on certain amino acids, minerals, vitamins and trace elements to operate effectively.
The effects of nutrients on female fertility are wide ranging. While a shortage of specific nutrients may result in reduced fertility, there are also other considerations. Although it may be possible to conceive, certain nutrient deficiencies can negatively impact foetal development and cause birth defects. There are also risks to maternal health.
Key nutrients for supporting female fertility
The trace element copper contributes to healthy metabolism and hormone regulation. If the body has too little or too much copper, it can negatively impact fertility. Research has shown that women with low copper levels are often sub-fertile. This is thought to be due to disruptions in oestrogen metabolism.
Perhaps one of the most well known nutrients emphasised for its importance during pregnancy is folic acid. This B vitamin is necessary to support healthy cell division as a baby develops. A deficiency in folic acid can lead to defects of the neural tube, spinal cord, and brain. It’s important that women increase their intake of folic acid if they are planning on having a baby. Higher levels of folic acid should continue throughout the early stages of pregnancy to support the development of a healthy baby.
There is a strong connection between low iron levels and infertility in women. Insufficient iron availability can lead to anovulation. Maintaining healthy iron levels can help reduce the risk of ovulation problems. Poor iron levels are also associated with lower birth weight. Iron is needed to support the growth of the foetus and placenta. It’s important to closely manage iron levels throughout pregnancy. Not enough or too much iron can cause complications.
Omega-3 fatty acids
These essential fatty acids are important for both fertility and healthy baby development during pregnancy. Studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids may assist with increasing female reproductive lifespan. This research has been based on animal trials, and required further testing. Other research has found that increasing omega-3 fatty acid intake during IVF/ICSI treatments can help to boost fertility and embryo growth. During pregnancy, these essential fatty acids can help to protect the developing foetus from oxidative stress and promote healthy birth weights.
A potent antioxidant, vitamin C reduces oxidative stress and may influence female fertility. Studies have found that vitamin C supplementation can help women undertaking assisted fertility treatments.
Often referred to as the ‘sun vitamin’, this group of compounds plays an essential role in helping the body to absorb trace elements and other key nutrients. Vitamin D has been shown to influence female fertility in animal studies. Female rats deficient in vitamin D struggle to produce healthy offspring. In humans, vitamin D has been shown to be important for healthy pregnancies and normal foetal development. Women with low vitamin D levels are more at risk of developing complications during pregnancy and giving birth to smaller babies.
Studies have shown that women undergoing assisted fertility treatments can benefit from vitamin E supplementation. This vitamin improves endometrial response as a result of antioxidant and anticoagulant properties. Vitamin E also supports healthy foetal development.
The maintenance of hormone levels relies on zinc. As a result, this trace element is very important for female fertility. Throughout pregnancy, low zinc levels can cause problems with foetal development and complications during labour.
Increasing nutrient intake to support female fertility
The effects of nutrients on female fertility are very important. Understanding how nutrients affect reproduction and baby development can help women make healthier lifestyle choices. Ensuring that the body has access to key nutrients can enhance fertility and support the development of a healthy baby and pregnancy.
While it’s easy to encourage the consumption of plenty of fresh produce to sustain healthy levels of key nutrients, this isn’t always easy. Busy daily routine and different lifestyle choices can increase nutritional demands. This can be more profound when diet is poor. As a result reproductive health can suffer.
To maintain healthy fertility and increase the chance of falling pregnant, many fertility specialists encourage women to consider supplements. This is an affordable, effective and convenient way to ensure that the body is getting the nutrition it needs during this important time. There are plenty of different formulas that have been especially designed to support reproductive health and normal foetal development.
It’s important to consult with your doctor before selecting a supplement. Some supplements are better for women trying to conceive, while others are more suitable for women to take during pregnancy. It’s not advised to take a general multi-vitamin as excess availability of some nutrients can be detrimental during pregnancy. Nevertheless, with the right supplement and positive lifestyle changes, it’s possible to support good reproductive health.