Food Sources of Important Nutrients for Fertility

The following information is from Dietics Reproductive Health:

A Good Dietary Intake of Nutrients Supports a Healthy Pregnancy and Healthy Baby
and while all nutrients are important for health, there are some that have been specifically shown to have a direct impact on fertility.  A good prenatal vitamin is still recommended, but nutrients from food are more efficiently digested, absorbed and used by the body.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D is needed to help the body create sex hormones that in turn affect ovulation and hormonal balance.

Food sources: Eggs, fatty fish, dairy, and cod liver oil. You can also get vitamin D from sitting out in the sun for 15 to 20 minutes per day, but absorption is impacted by the darkness of your skin.

Vitamin E: Vitamin E has been shown in studies to improve sperm health and motility in men. Vitamin E is also an important antioxidant to help protect sperm and egg DNA integrity.

Food sources: Sunflower seeds, almonds, olives, spinach, papaya, dark leafy greens.

Vitamin C:  Vitamin C has been shown to improve sperm quality and protect sperm from DNA damage; helping to reduce the chance of miscarriage and chromosomal problems. Vitamin C also appears to keep sperm from clumping together, making them more motile.

Food sources: Abundant in plants and fruits including red peppers, broccoli, cranberries, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, and citrus fruit.

Folic Acid: Perhaps one of the best known vitamins necessary for pregnancy is folic acid. This vitamin helps prevent neural tube defects as well as congenital heart defects, cleft lips, limb defects, and urinary tract anomalies in developing fetuses. Deficiency in folic acid may increase the risk of going into preterm delivery, infant low birth weight and fetal growth retardation. Deficiency may also increase the homocysteine level in the blood, which can lead to spontaneous abortion and pregnancy complications, such as placental abruption and pre-eclampsia.

Food sources: liver, lentils, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, asparagus, spinach, black beans, navy beans, kidney beans, collard greens

B6: Vitamin B6 helps to regulate blood sugars, alleviates PMS, and may be useful in relieving symptoms of morning sickness. B6 has been shown to correct Luteal Phase Defect

Food sources: Tuna, banana, turkey, liver, salmon, cod, spinach, bell peppers, and turnip greens, collard greens, garlic, cauliflower, mustard greens, celery, cabbage, asparagus, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, chard.

B12: Vitamin B12 has been shown to improve sperm quality and production. It also may help to boost the endometrium lining in egg fertilization, decreasing the chances of miscarriage. Some studies have found that a deficiency of B12 may increase the chances of irregular ovulation, and in severe cases stop ovulation altogether.

Food sources: Clams, oysters, mussels, liver, caviar (fish eggs), fish, crab, lobster, beef, lamb, cheese, eggs.

Iron: Studies have shown that women with low iron levels may suffer anovulation (lack of ovulation) and possibly poor egg health, which can inhibit pregnancy at a rate 60% higher than those with sufficient iron stores in their blood.

Food sources: Lentils, spinach, sesame seeds, kidney beans, pumpkin seeds (raw), venison, garbanzo beans, navy beans, molasses, beef.

Selenium: Selenium is an antioxidant that helps to protect the eggs and sperm from free radicals which can cause chromosomal damage leading to miscarriages and birth defects. Selenium is also necessary for the creation of sperm. In studies, men with low sperm counts have also been found to have low levels of selenium.

Food sources: Liver, snapper, cod, halibut, tuna, salmon, sardines, shrimp, crimini mushrooms, turkey, Brazil nuts (just one nut contains nearly 100% of the RDA for selenium).

Zinc:  In women, without zinc, cells cannot divide properly; and estrogen and progesterone levels can become imbalanced. Low levels of zinc have been directly linked to early miscarriage. In men, zinc is considered very important in male fertility and has been shown to boost sperm levels; improve the form, function and quality of male sperm.

Food sources: Calf liver, oysters, beef, lamb, venison, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, turkey, green peas, shrimp. Zinc can be damaged by cooking so it is important to eat some foods high in zinc in their raw forms.

CoQ10: Necessary for every cell in the body for energy production, CoQ10 has also been shown in studies to increase ova (egg) and sperm health. It is necessary for sperm motility in semen. It is also an important antioxidant that helps to protect cells from free radical damage; protecting DNA.

Food sources: Found in seafood and organ meats, though it is very difficult to obtain through the diet. CoQ10 Ubiquinol supplementation is the best way to obtain CoQ10. Amounts in the body decline with age.

Essential Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help fertility by helping to regulate hormones, increasing cervical mucous, promoting ovulation and overall improves the quality of the uterus by increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs. Omega-3 fats also contain two acids that are crucial to good health: DHA and EPA. These two acids have been shown to help many forms of disease. Low levels of DHA have been linked to depression and other mental health issues. During pregnancy, a lack of DHA may be associated with premature birth, low birth weight and hyperactivity in children.

Food sources: Flax, chia seeds, walnuts, salmon, sardines, halibut, shrimp, snapper, scallops

Lipoic Acid: Lipoic acid is a very important antioxidant because it not only helps to protect the female reproductive organs and has been shown to improve sperm quality and motility, but it also helps the body to continually re-use the antioxidants in the body.

Food sources: In small amounts found in potatoes, spinach and red meat.