VitaminsWhen you are trying to conceive, eating a diet of nutrient-dense foods is critical to your success. Your reproductive system needs the right resources to perform at its best. Many circles refer to it as a fertility diet, built on a foundation of lots of leafy greens, lean proteins, other vegetables and fresh fruits.

Many of us, however, are not perfect eaters — even when motivated by something as important as starting a family. That’s why I recommend all of my patients get plenty of the following nine vitamins, either from their diet or their multivitamin or prenatal vitamin:

Vitamin C: You have heard it all your life, but only because it’s true. Vitamin C is critical to your body’s health. It’s also critical to producing healthy sperm and eggs, so be sure to get plenty of it. The good news is, you can find it in many sources, including almonds, citrus fruit, leafy greens, red peppers, sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes and tomatoes, to mention a few.

Vitamin D: This essential vitamin is vital to hormone production, critical to sperm production and ovulation. We get vitamin D from sunlight, so it’s a great idea to get out in the sun for a few minutes every day. Other sources include liver oil, cold-water fish and eggs.

Vitamin E: Like Vitamin C, Vitamin E helps produce better reproductive material. It is also loaded with antioxidants that can help your body minimize the damage toxins cause to your cells. You can find it in all the foods where you find vitamin C.

Folate: Good for men and women, folate helps promote good health of eggs, sperm and embryos. You can find it in meats, legumes such as lentils and kidney beans, spinach, kale, and asparagus, as well as broccoli and citrus fruits. Also, a surprising source of folate is avocado.

Iron: Like folate, getting plenty of iron is a great way to boost the health of both eggs and sperm. It is found in all of the same sources as folate as well.

L-carnitine: This important nutrient helps protect the uterus from the effects of endometriosis, a condition suffered by some women in infertility treatment. Also, it promotes healthy sperm for men. You can find it in meat and dairy products, and also in avocados, peanut butter and whole-wheat grains.

Omega-3 fatty acids: The benefits that omega-3 fatty acids have on fertility are numerous, including regulation of hormonal balances and regular ovulation. However, the important fatty acids are important for sperm formation as well. They also help increase blood flow to the reproductive organs. You can find them in fish, but stick to low-mercury, cold-water fish such as herring, salmon and tuna. You can also find it in flaxseeds and walnuts.

Selenium: This important nutrient plays a role in freeing the body from free radicals that can interfere with conception and sometimes contribute to miscarriage. You can find it in cottage cheese, eggs, oats, rice, sunflower seeds and tuna.

Zinc: When it comes to male fertility, zinc is a great vitamin to include in your diet. Not only does it maintain a better hormonal balance for men, but it also improves the quality of sperm in both function and shape, two of the factors used to determine male fertility levels. The best source of zinc is in liver, but you can also find it in beef and lamb. Zinc is also found in pumpkin seeds, peas and yogurt.

When you are trying to conceive, I believe it is important for my patients to adopt a fertility diet full of nutrient-dense whole foods. I also believe that you should take a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin daily. Getting your vitamins one way or another is an excellent way to boost your fertility health to be the best it can be.

Sources:

“Fertility and Diet.” Get Pregnant F.A.Q.. Web. 5 Jun 2015. http://getpregnantfaq.com/fertility-and-diet/

Guthrie, Catherine. “Fertility diet: The nutrients you need to conceive.” Baby Center. Nov 2011: 1-5. Web. 5 Jun. 2015. http://www.babycenter.com/0_fertility-diet-the-nutrients-you-need-to-conceive_1460692.bc?page=1