In this final week of fertility month I want to look at two of the B vitamins that are essential to fertility. This further reiterates how essential vitamins, minerals and trace elements are. The nutrients I have chosen remain at the top of my fertility ‘must have’s’ although I’d also like to point out that all vitamins, minerals and trace elements need to be in balance to maintain your general health and well-being.
Vitamin B6 as it treats luteal phase defect
The big B6! A very important vitamin in fertility, perhaps one of the most important in the B vitamin family. When I say family I mean it as a family that work best together. They work synergistically and support a variety of functions from red blood cell production to the proper functioning of the brain, metabolism and nervous system. Vitamin B6 helps to regulate progesterone in the body, regulate the menstrual cycle and improves egg and sperm health.
While it regulates your hormones it can also help to lengthen the luteal phase of your cycle. The luteal phase is the phase from ovulation to menstruation. If this period is too short there will not be enough time for the fertilized egg to travel from the ovary to the uterus and implant. This requires about 10 days. B6 will help to lengthen this phase.1.
As B6 is water soluble you need to make sure you are getting enough on a daily basis and if not you will need to take supplements. If you are trying to get it from food make sure it is as close to a “whole” state as possible. Over cooking foods that contain Vitamin B6, will reduce the vitamin content by up to 90%.2 As a supplement I would recommend getting between 100-200mg’s per day of the combined B vitamins. As B vitamins are water soluble you will need to insure regular intake of the B vitamin rich foods and/or supplements.
B6 is found in tuna, banana, turkey, liver, salmon, cod, spinach, bell peppers, turnip, garlic, cauliflower, celery, cabbage, asparagus, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, avocado, potatoes, wild caught fish, grass-fed meats and eggs. You should be careful to avoid certain foods and activities which have an influence on Vitamin B6. I anyway recommend avoiding these in general. These include smoking, caffeine, highly processed grains, sugar, stress and hormones such as the Pill.
Folate to prevent congenital diseases
Another very important B vitamin is B9, or folate. This vitamin is particularly important in early pregnancy as it has been proven to reduce the risk of babies developing potentially serious spinal cord problems such as spina bifida. Like many of the B vitamins, B9 has very important every day functions in the body. It is important for methylation, the synthesis and repair of DNA, aids in cell division and is essential for the production of red blood cells.
Folate is the natural form found in food products, while folic acid is the oxidized synthetic form of the vitamin. Folate cannot be used by the body and therefore needs to be consumed. Folic acid nevertheless has very important benefits and if you take supplements, look for the better quality product which contains folate and not folic acid3.
Some women have genetic mutations that do not allow them to convert folic acid into the usable form 5MTHF. This mutation makes women susceptible to infertility and may lead to miscarriage. Both methyl folate, B9 and methyl cobalamin B12, are essential to convert homocysteine, an amino acid formed from the breakdown of proteins, into methionine. Elevated homocysteine has been linked to a variety of disease. In pregnancy if homocysteine levels are elevated this may lead to fetal abnormalities and problems with the placenta.
Folate is found in liver, lentils, pinto beans, asparagus, spinach, black beans, kidney beans and collard greens, cereals, leafy vegetables (spinach, broccoli, lettuce), okra, asparagus, fruits (bananas, melons, lemons), legumes, yeast, mushrooms, orange juice, and tomato juice.
B vitamins play a major role in many of the physical processes in the body. A deficiency of these will certainly disrupt these processes and play a part in infertility.