Are you deficient in these 4 essential fertility nutrients? During the time I have been in practice (that’s 18 years) I have helped many people achieve their dream of creating a family. As a fertility coach and nutritional therapist my starting point considers fertility nutrient deficiencies that could be impacting on your ability to conceive. So today I thought I would share a little clinical experience with you.
During the last 10 years I have noticed that many women are deficient in these 4 essential fertility nutrients. If you are looking to increase your fertility I urge you to consider whether you too could be deficient.
Fertility Nutrient 1 – Magnesium
This is the primary nutrient deficiency I see in clinic. Magnesium is one of the most important elements in our body, being involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions. Women use magnesium likes it’s going out of fashion! Our bodies need it to encourage smooth fallopian muscle function, support ovulation and help us cope with stress. It’s a must for healthy bones, helps us to make protein, supports muscle and nerve function, blood glucose levels, blood pressure and for our energy production.
A recent study done in America showed that 48% of the population have inadequate intake of this vital mineral
Wow, that is nearly half of the population. So why is this? Today’s modern lifestyle creates a big drain on magnesium reserves – just think about environmental and fertility stress, erratic eating patterns, high sugar diets, alcohol, the use of some prescriptive medications and other procedures including assisted conception.
So how can you absorb more magnesium? Well you can eat include more magnesium rich foods in your diet but it is likely that you will need additional support through some form of supplementation. I have found magnesium baths really helpful – many of my clients hardly take baths these days – it’s a quick shower but these baths are REMEDIAL – they offer the all important “rest and recharge”, help you include important lifestyle changes to support your fertility and allow your body to gently “let go” whilst absorbing magnesium transdermally. You could even add some Creation aromatherapy essence to support your fertility further. Add 500grams of Epsom salts to a warm bath once or twice per week during the 1st and 2nd week of your cycle but not after ovulation. Lie in the bath for 20 minutes. Another approach is to use a trans-dermal magnesium spray after you have showered.
Remember, not all magnesium is equal. Choosing the right type is critical to successful fertility support.
- Magnesium Citrate is a well absorbed, gentle form. It’s a great choice for general magnesium supplementation.
- Magnesium Malate – a better choice for you if you are suffering with fatigue, low energy and adrenal “burn out”
- Magnesium Taurate (amino acid). Taurine is used to create bile in the gallbladder which helps detoxify the liver. ( I tend to recommend this or or a combination of the 3 types when treating oestrogen dominant fertility issues, stress related fertility support or during “prepare for pregnancy cleanse” or “recovery assisted conception detox”). Magnesium Taurine also helps to activate the calming neurotransmitter GABA
Fertility Nutrient 2 – Iron
Found in: Red meat, spinach, kale, liver, dandelion greens; lentils, soybeans, tofu, tempeh, lima beans; quinoa, fortified cereals, brown rice, oatmeal; pumpkin, squash, pine, pistachio, sunflower, cashews, sesame; tomato sauce, Swiss chard, collard greens, black strap molasses, prune juice.
This mineral is found all over the earth but yet so many women are deficient in this important fertility nutrient. Iron is essential for red blood cell development and helps transport oxygen and nutrients to every cell in our body.
Research shows only one in five fertile women starts her pregnancy with adequate iron levels
Adequate iron is needed for optimum fertility, to make oestrogen and progesterone and essential for normal ovulation. In a study on unexplained infertility it was found that women whose iron levels (measured by serum ferritin) were below 40 ug/l had a harder time conceiving. In addition low ferritin levels affected placenta development which is why deficiency has been linked with miscarriage; low birth weight babies, premature labour, postpartum depression and iron deficiency in new borns.
To better understand what we need to do to ensure our bodies are getting enough iron, we need to understand a little more about iron. There are two types of iron — haem found in animal foods (more easily absorbed) and plant based non-haeme. So, when it comes to iron we need to consider whether you are vegetarian and how you absorb it!
Tip: Eat plant based non-haem iron foods with vitamin C foods, and your absorption can increase five fold. An example is falafel with hummus, tomatoes and lemon juice. Avoid coffee and tea when eating high-iron meals. Actually, it’s best to avoid caffeine when trying to conceive anyway but remember tannins contained in decaff or real coffee inhibit iron absorption. If you are vegetarian download the Vegetarian Fertility Diet
If you are considering an iron supplement I tend to recommend liquid based supplementation which contain the synergists for better absorption. That’s folate, vitamin C, B2,B6, B12 and ferritin!
Fertility nutrient 3 – essential fatty acids (Omega 3)
These crucial nutrients supports cellular structure. It is so rare that I see a client who has the correct essential fat balance! Omega 3 is needed for proper functioning of the body. Fundamentally, omega 3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA, are the building blocks of membranes of all cells in the body, and precursors of eciosanoids, hormones important in the prevention and treatment of many diseases, especially in women.
With regard to fertility they help the body: Increase egg white cervical mucus and vaginal lubrication, relieve menstrual cramps, support the uterus by increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs, regulate hormone balance including reducing the hormone prolactin, promote healthy ovulation, support hormone and prostaglandin regulation;, support healthy breasts and mammary glands. The are really important for cognitive health. Studies demonstrate how omega 3 reduces mild depression and anxiety. They also reduce the inflammatory response (brilliant treatment aid for endometriosis); help thin the blood ( so you can naturally avoid the use of aspirin during pregnancy) and reduce the risk of miscarriage.
Men also need essential fatty acids for sperm health. Fatty acids improve the circulation to the genitals, help lower blood pressure, help reduce erectile dysfunction and support the production of sperm and are primary ingredients in sperm cell membranes.
During pregnancy essential fatty acids support healthy placental growth, brain and liver development in the foetus (the baby’s central nervous system begins to develop after 21 days after conception) and reduce the risk of of developing pre-eclampsia
Omega 3 is found in flax oil, hemp seed oil, krill oil and fish oils, fresh oily fish including wild salmon, deep sea fish, red snapper, wild trout, halibut, sardines, anchovies, walnuts, almonds, seeds, grass fed meat; egg yolk, and avocado. Omega 6 in borage oil and omega 9 in olive oil, sea buckthorn, fresh seeds and nuts, avocado and sunflower oil. If you are wanting to supplement your diet with an essential fatty acid then it is important to choose one that is low in metal toxicity – I have found krill oil or a reputable fish oil manufacturer such as Eskimo the least toxic.
Unfortunately the NHS do not offer magnesium or essential fatty acids functional testing but here at Creation Fertility we offer this service.
|Prepare for pregnancy - Fertility MOT||Identify and cleanse. Initial 90 minute consultation + 45 minute follow up appointment to prepare you and your body before pregnancy.||£250.00
£400.00 if partners attending together
|Trying to Conceive||This consultation includes the Fertility MOT plus 6 signature complementary therapies and the Fertility MOT follow up appointment. That's 8 support appointments||£550.00|
|The Pregnancy Programme||Now you are pregnant ensure you eat properly. Nutritional pregnancy programme||£150.00|
|Pregnancy Therapies||Course of 6 signature complementary pregnancy therapies||£320.00|
Food sources of Vitamin D include; oily fish (trout, wild salmon, mackerel, herring, anchovies, sardines, krill oil), egg yolk, butter and milk.
Natural Source: Sunshine! Full body exposure during summer months for 10-15mins in an adult produces between 10,000 – 20,000 IU of Vitamin D3 within 24 hours. So get outside and enjoy some daylight!
Among 40% of women of reproductive age are vitamin D deficient. A recent study found that women with higher vitamin D levels were significantly more likely to produce high quality embryos and achieve pregnancy from IVF compared to women with lower levels of vitamin D.
Another study published by the journal Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology found that vitamin D status is linked with male reproductive success in couples attempting pregnancy. Low levels of vitamin D in men reduced pregnancy rates in couples trying to conceive
With vitamin D deficiency being so common it is important to assess your vitamin D levels as soon as possible. Vitamin D (calcitriol) supports more than 30 bodily functions and has been shown to control the genes in making oestrogen and help organise immune cells in the uterus. In humans, the vitamin D receptor is present in many female organs, including the ovary, uterus, and placenta. Did you know that the uterine lining produces vitamin D in response to the embryo as it enters the uterine cavity shortly before implantation? Your GP can provide a test although other easy to use finger prick vitamin D tests are available. We assess in clinic. So how much vitamin D is needed and in what format? This will depend on your results but when they present less than 65 ng/ml I advocate supplementation between 2000 ius to 5000 ius daily- combined with K2 for at least 3 months.
These 4 essential fertility nutrients are easy to assess for deficiencies and rectify. I recommend every couple looking to conceive or have an interested in maintaining their conceptual health has a Fertility MOT to assess nutrient deficiencies.
Disclaimer: Justine Evans ND is the founder of Creation Fertility, a registered naturopath, fertility coach and nutritional therapist. Her opinions are founded on science and clinical experience. She writes this blog to help educate those on a fertility journey but does not accept any responsibility towards your health through reading this article. If you have any concerns about your health please receive the advice of a health professional before applying any changes to your lifestyle programme
Institute of Medicine (IOM). Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D and Fluorideexternal link disclaimer. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1997.
Rude. (2012) Magnesium. In: Ross et al. (eds) Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 11th ed. Baltimore, Mass: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, pp159-75.
Rosanoff A, Weaver CM, Rude RK. Suboptimal magnesium status in the United States: are the health consequences underestimated? Nutr Rev. 2012 Mar;70(3):153-64.
Fujita T, Ando K, Noda H, Ito Y, Sato Y. Effects of increased adrenomedullary activity and taurine in young patients with borderline hypertension. Circulation. 1987 Mar;75(3):525-32.
Obinata K, Maruyama T, Hayashi M, Watanabe T, Nittono H. Effect of taurine on the fatty liver of children with simple obesity. Adv Exp Med Biol. 1996;403:607-13.
Omega 3 references
Clean marine webinar with Susie Perry Debice – Nutrition Tips for Hormone Balance 23rd May 2017
Arthur, R.’Omega-3 Sources’. The Journal of Complementary Medicine,
‘Women and omega-3 Fatty acids’. Obstet Gynecol Surv. 2004 Oct;59(10):722-30; quiz 745-6.3. Keene, I. 2008. “Natural Fertility Prescription”, Australian Natural Therapeutics, Switzerland
Vitamin D References
Kinuta K, Tanaka H, Moriwake T, Aya K, Kato S, Seino Y. Vitamin D is an important factor in estrogen biosynthesis of both female and male gonads. Endocrinology, 2000;141:1317–24.
Halloran BP, DeLuca HF. Effect of vitamin D deficiency on fertility and reproductive capacity in the female rat. J Nutr, 1980;110:1573–80.