November 17, 2011

Improving Fertility Through Nutritional Medicine

When a women’s body is preparing for pregnancy there is an increased need for certain vitamins and minerals so the ovary will ovulate a mature egg that can be fertilized.  The “healthier” the egg the better the chance of making a healthy baby. The nutrients in your blood enrich the granulosa cells that surround and nurture the egg inside the ovarian follicle.

Toxins and other negative environmental aspects can interfere with reproduction. These negative effects may be ameliorated by adopting a healthy lifestyle including better nutrition. Many nutritional supplements have been promoted to enhance reproductive performance facilitating successful pregnancy.

Omega 6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory which means your body senses injury, creating a wound response releasing free radicals that can be harmful. Antioxidants scavenge free radicals lessening their harmful effects. Antioxidants are in fruits and vegetables.  Omega 6 fatty acids are in many processed foods. So by simply supplementing processed foods with fruits and vegetables is a great start to enhancing fertility.

Omega 3 fatty acids do many beneficial things including decreasing inflammation, decreasing the pain response associated with endometriosis, and promoting progesterone response and receptivity which supports normal pregnancy. Since humans cannot synthesize omega 3 fatty acids, we must get them from our diet, primarily from the fish we eat (from the algae they eat). Although fish oil can be supplemented, it is always best to get your vitamins and minerals from their natural source. Omega 3 fatty acids should outweigh our intake of Omega 6 fatty acids. Currently, the typical American diet consists of omega 6 fatty acids outweighing omega 3 fatty acids by 15 fold.

Other vitamins that can fight inflammation are: vitamin C which has a positive effect on percent of “normal” sperm and can increase sperm motility, Vitamin E which has been linked to reducing age related ovarian decline, Vitamin D which may enhance egg quality and whose deficiency is related to pain, and vitamin K. B vitamins are of special interest due to their role in flushing out estrogen. Your liver depends on B vitamins to filter estrogen from the bloodstream via the bile duct into the intestinal tract. If estrogen is not eliminated from the body it will re-circulate which can lead to estrogen dominance. An unhealthy weight and exposure to xenoestrogens which accumulate from ingesting pesticides disrupt endocrine function.

Oral contraceptives can deplete certain vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, B12, B6, B2, folic acid, magnesium and zinc. Therefore women using oral contraceptives should also be taking multivitamins.

Although, the thought of toxins and unknown chemicals in your body is scary to think about, there is something you can do about it. You have the power to improve your own fertility as well as your overall health though nutrition by cutting out processed foods, eating more fruits and vegetables, and incorporating more Omega 3 fatty acids into your diet. Remember, optimal nutrition before pregnancy is extremely important in helping you have a healthy baby.

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Darlene Davies

Darlene Davies BS, Embryology