Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are common in the population today. The original purpose of food is to give our body all of the nutrients it needs. As our food supply has changed through growing practices that cause soil to become depleted, our food does not always contain the vitamins and minerals it should.
In addition, the Standard American Diet is also taking a huge toll on our health. When real food is supposed to be the source of our vitamins and minerals, it is no wonder we are seeing such an increase in fertility issues. These deficiencies aren’t just a concern for women, they affect men, too.
Folic acid and B12 deficiencies are linked with miscarriage and are important to fertility. However, there is a genetic condition referred to as MTHFR in which the body does not properly utilize folic acid and B12. People with MTHFR should not take folic acid; they need it in the form of folate. Another effect of MTHFR can be miscarriage. If you have not been able to carry to term, you may want to find a doctor who understands this condition and can help you understand and manage it.
All of the B vitamins are very important for fertility and healthy babies. Zinc is used to utilize reproductive hormones. Selenium is important to prevent chromosome breakage and sperm formation. In one study, men participating in IVF (in-vitro fertilization) were given vitamin E and fertility rates increased from 19 to 29 percent. Studies show that vitamin C can increase sperm quality, protect DNA in sperm from damage and improve sperm motility. Vitamin D deficiencies are being linked to fertility problems in both men and women.
The amino acid L-arginine has increased fertility in some men; however, if a man is susceptible to cold sores, he should not take this as it will stimulate the virus responsible for outbreaks. L-carnitine, another amino acid, is found to benefit both men and women.
Omega 3 essential fatty acids, such as those found in fish oil, can regulate hormone function and control inflammation. However, some women take Evening Primrose oil or Borage oil, which are Omega 6s. Over time Omega 6s can disrupt the hormonal balance. Omega 6s naturally occur in soybean oil and other vegetable oils, which are present in almost every packaged food. This is another reason to forego processed, convenience and fast food.
Some herbal supplements have shown promise. Agnus Castus can rebalance hormones and increase fertility. In one study, within three months, 7 percent of women experiencing infertility became pregnant and 50 percent had progesterone levels return to normal. However, it is not recommended to take this if you are taking fertility drugs, oral contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy or any other medication, without a doctor’s approval.
As with all supplements, it is important to buy a very good quality brand. Cheaper vitamins and minerals are full of fillers and may not have been processed to preserve their potency. Many less expensive supplements are also synthetic or manmade. Our bodies do not know what to do with these supplements. We are made to consume natural products. With supplements, you definitely get what you pay for. Before starting a supplement program it is recommended that you find a health care professional that can give you some guidance.
Many people turn to in-vitro fertilization as a means to have a baby. Studies show that IVF has an approximate success rate of 25 percent while preconception care shows a success rate of 47 percent. IVF does not address the underlying cause of infertility, whereas preconception care can often correct the issues causing infertility. Incidentally, research indicates that in-vitro fertilization can be more successful if you make these types of lifestyle changes.
By considering supplements that your body may need, as well as consuming a nutritious pre-conception diet and removing toxins from your environment, you may be able to give your body the opportunity to conceive a healthy child.
I will be teaching natural living classes Wednesdays from September through November at Monroe County Community College.
Classes about allergies, ADHD and autism and a four-week series on Gluten-Intolerance begin Sept. 11. Other topics will include principles from children and women’s health to boosting the immune system and protecting against cancer. Visit monroeccc.edu/ccs/lifelong.htm to register or get more information.
Originally published in The News Herald column Food for Thought by Theresa Edmunds.