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Supplements to take when trying to conceive

Both men and women can optimise their chances of conceiving by following a healthy eating regime that stocks up a range of important nutrients in the body.

It’s also important for both men and women to stop smoking and drinking coffee¹ before trying to conceive to give their bodies the best possible chance of producing healthy eggs and sperm and, of course, a healthy baby.

What about my diet? Eating a variety of wholefoods, fresh vegetables, healthy fats and protein is essential. If you or your partner need help quitting smoking or eating better, we can help. Then there’s the question:

Do you really need to supplement in pill form?

The short answer is yes. To ensure that you’re getting sufficient folate for example. Vitamins such as folate are not only critical for preventing birth defects, but may also make it easier to get pregnant, by restoring ovulation and boosting egg quality. Some vitamins can also reduce the risk of miscarriage. For all these reasons, it is important to take a good quality prenatal vitamin supplement early – ideally at least 3 months before trying to conceive.

There is a great deal of evidence on the benefits of supplements for fertility. Check out the reference section for the research articles. When it comes to fertility, there is often no time to wait. This is particularly true in the context of IVF, where women might only have one or two chances before running out of financial or emotional resources.

Studies show that women who take a daily multivitamin are much less likely to have infertility due to ovulation problems.²

It is recommended that you have a nutritionally trained professional check your supplement plan. Your medical history and other medications need to be taken into consideration.  Here is a basic plan to get you started:

prenancy

The Bare Essentials: – Supplements recommended if you’re healthy, below 35 years old and have trying to conceive for less than 12 months (with no miscarriages or failed IVF cycles)

  • Folate –  In the form of methyl-folate is best, as it’s better absorbed. At least 800 micrograms
  • Iodine. Iodine deficiency is common. Women with iodine deficiency may have a more difficult time conceiving.
  • Vitamin D (if your levels have been low in the last 2 years).  If your Vitamin D levels are below 100 nmol/L or 40ng/ml, consider supplementing with 4000-5000IU per day for 3 months. If you’re taking this dose long term, checking your blood calcium levels is wise. If you have significant deficiency, you can start with 10,000 IU per day for 2 weeks.

(a good prenatal will contain all of the above, we stock such at Freedom Chinese Medicine in Ivanhoe, Melbourne)

  • Iron (if your levels are currently low)
  • CoQ10 consider adding this daily supplement to enhance energy production inside developing eggs and possibly prevent chromosomal errors. The most effective form of CoQ10 is ubiquinol or Bio-Quinon, and the basic dose is 200mg, preferably taken in the morning with food.

Extra Support: – recommended if you’ve had some fertility issues, like trying for more than 12 months, or miscarriages.

  • A prenatal multivitamin containing at least 800 mcg of methylfolate.
  • Ubiquinol 400mg daily. One 200mg tablet with breakfast, one with lunch.
  • Iodine. Iodine deficiency is common. Women with iodine deficiency may have a more difficult time conceiving.
  • Iron (if your levels are currently low)
  • Vitamin D (if your levels have been low in the last 2 years).  If your Vitamin D levels are below 100 nmol/L or 40ng/ml, consider supplementing with 4000-5000IU per day for 3 months. If you’re taking this dose long term, checking your blood calcium levels is wise. If you have significant deficiency, you can start with 10,000 IU per day for 2 weeks.
  • Additional Vitamin C– 500mg benefits our immune system and improves egg and sperm quality.
  • Vitamin E– 200 IU.  An antioxidant nutrient helpful for egg and sperm quality.
  • Alpha-lipoic acid or N-acetyl cysteine if you need a stronger anti-oxidant boost (if you have MTHFR mutation or autoimmune problems)

Optimal Support: – recommended if you have a diminished ovarian reserve, age-related infertility or you need to pursue IVF or IUI for any other reason, you have the most to gain from an aggressive plan to improve egg quality.

  • A prenatal multivitamin containing at least 800 mcg of methylfolate.
  • Ubiquinol 400mg daily. One 200mg tablet with breakfast, one with lunch.
  • Iodine. Iodine deficiency is common. Women with iodine deficiency may have a more difficult time conceiving.
  • Iron (if your levels are currently low)
  • Vitamin D (if your levels have been low in the last 2 years).  If your Vitamin D levels are below 100 nmol/L or 40ng/ml, consider supplementing with 4000-5000IU per day for 3 months. If you’re taking this dose long term, checking your blood calcium levels is wise. If you have significant deficiency, you can start with 10,000 IU per day for 2 weeks.
  • Additional Vitamin C– 500mg benefits our immune system and improves egg and sperm quality.
  • Vitamin E– 200 IU.  An antioxidant nutrient helpful for egg and sperm quality.
  • R-alpha-lipoic acid 200-300mg – preferably at least 30mins before a meal
  • N-acetyl cysteine 600mg – anytime.
  • For IVF only; melatonin, 3mg at bedtime, starting 2-4 weeks before egg retrieval
  • Consider also taking a DHEA supplement (if your DHEAS and testosterone levels are low). For 2-3 months before your next IVF cycle. Typical dosage is 25mg, 3 times per day, although you may require less.

 

What about him?

If there is a him on the scene, his nutrition certainly counts. Contrary to popular belief, male infertility contributes to nearly 50% of all cases in which a couple has difficulty conceiving³ Here’s what he can take to improve your chances of conceiving:

  • a daily prenatal multivitamin containing methylfolate
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Zinc
  • Selenium

(a good male prenatal will contain all of the above, we stock such at Freedom Chinese Medicine in Ivanhoe, Melbourne)

  • Ubiquinol or BioQuinon – at least 200mg daily
  • Alpha-lipoic Acid if known sperm quality issues, recurrent miscarriage or failed IVF cycles
  • Fish Oil/ Omega 3s
  • L-carnitine

Each of these supplements is backed up by clear scientific evidence. For example, a study found that when men took Alpha-lipoic acid each day for 12 weeks, there was a significant improvement in sperm count, sperm concentration, and motility levels.4

 

We stock all the above supplements at Freedom Chinese Medicine in Ivanhoe. In high quality form. We also offer practitioners who hold exceptional knowledge & experience in helping people conceive. We’d be happy to help you, so feel free to contact if you have any questions or need extra help.

 

Written by:

Dr Elaine Hickman

B.H.Sc.TCM (Acupuncture), Cert.Cl.Ac. (Beijing)

Elaine has trained and worked in various settings, both in Australia and China.  She has over 20 years experience in treating many health problems.  Elaine loves to provide a health care experience for people that is respectful, effective, empowering and enjoyable.  Elaine’s acupuncture treatments are gentle, powerful, amazingly relaxing and incorporate Japanese & Chinese techniques, as well as Medical Qi Gong if appropriate.  Elaine has a particular interest in Gynaecology, Fertility, Obstetrics, Family Medicine, Wellness promotion and Mental Health. She brings extra expertise and understanding to the table as she’s been through infertility herself.

 

References:

1 Maternal caffeine consumption and pregnancy outcomes: a narrative review with implications for
advice to mothers and mothers-to-be. Jack E. James. 10.1136/bmjebm-2020-111432

2 Chavarro JE, Rich-Edwards JW, Rosner BA, Willett WC. Use of multivitamins, intake of B vitamins, and risk of ovulatory infertility. Fertil Steril. 2008 Mar;89(3):668-76. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2007.03.089. Epub 2007 Jul 10. PMID: 17624345; PMCID: PMC2366795.

3 Esteves SC, Agarwal A. Novel concepts in male infertility. Int Braz J Urol. 2011 Jan-Feb;37(1):5-15. doi: 10.1590/s1677-55382011000100002. PMID: 21385475.

4 Salas-Huetos A, Rosique-Esteban N, Becerra-Tomás N, Vizmanos B, Bulló M, Salas-Salvadó J. The Effect of Nutrients and Dietary Supplements on Sperm Quality Parameters: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. Adv Nutr. 2018 Nov 1;9(6):833-848. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmy057. PMID: 30462179; PMCID: PMC6247182.

Kuehn B. Iodine Deficiency May Impair Fertility. JAMA. 2018;319(8):760. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.1291

Czeizel AE, Dudás I. Prevention of the first occurrence of neural-tube defects by periconceptional vitamin supplementation. N Engl J Med. 1992 Dec 24;327(26):1832-5. doi: 10.1056/NEJM199212243272602. PMID: 1307234.

Rudick B, Ingles S, Chung K, Stanczyk F, Paulson R, Bendikson K. Characterizing the influence of vitamin D levels on IVF outcomes. Hum Reprod. 2012 Nov;27(11):3321-7. doi: 10.1093/humrep/des280. Epub 2012 Aug 21. PMID: 22914766.

https://www.thebump.com/a/vitamins-you-need-to-conceive

http://natural-fertility-info.com/multivitamin

 

 

 

 

 

 

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