The Role Vitamins, Minerals and Antioxidants Play in Fertility
In this week’s article I want to talk about some very common deficiencies that women in particular suffer with, and the vital role these vitamins and minerals play in maintaining a pregnancy and the development of the growing fetus.
Vitamin B12 balances hormones and improves quality of sperm
B12 is an extremely important vitamin in fertility. Like many micronutrients only small amounts are needed however this small amount will inevitably improve your fertility as it balances female hormones.
The role B12 plays in the prevention of miscarriage has been well documented. Studies suggest that a low B12 levels may cause a miscarriage due to hyper coagulation. Furthermore, extended periods of deficiency will result in abnormal ovulation, impaired development of the egg and problems with implantation of the fertilized egg.1. Once you are pregnant it is important to continue daily intake as B12 helps to prevent miscarriage. Studies show that pregnant women are in fact easily prone to a B12 deficiency.2.
B12 supplementation also benefits male fertility by improving sperm count. The University of Michigan Health System reports several studies where 1,500 mcg of B-12 daily were given for between 2 and 13 months which resulted in raised sperm counts in 60 percent of the men participating.3.
B-12 naturally occurs in all animal foods. Many foods have also been fortified with this vitamin, along with the other B-vitamins. There are not many B12 plant sources for vegetarians except for example purple laver (nori) which also contains iron. 4.
Good food sources of B12 include clams, oysters, salmon, trout, mussels, liver, fish eggs, crab, lobster, beef, venison, lamb and eggs, yogurt and milk. If you decide to take a supplement ensure it is in the stabile, bioavailable form as Methyl cobalamin.
Iron for egg health
Low iron levels in women is a common affliction and among the many symptoms of this deficiency comes infertility. Iron helps the body to produce healthy eggs and a lack of it may cause anovulation (lack of ovulation) and possible poor egg quality. Studies have also shown that insufficient iron levels can inhibit pregnancy at a rate 60% higher than those with sufficient iron stores in their blood.5.
Iron supplements are an effective form to increase iron reserves. It is important to ensure you are able to absorb the iron and that your supplement or food intake includes synergistic nutrients that are necessary for iron absorption and utilization. These nutrients are Methyl cobalamin (active form of B12) Methyl Folate (Active form of folate) and buffered vitamin C.
If your reserves are in the higher range, than supplementation is not essential, however you should ensure regular intake of iron rich foods to beef up or maintain your iron stores. Iron is one of those minerals that a growing fetus drains from you. Too little iron puts not only you at risk but also your child. Many studies indicate developmental problems with babies with anemia.6.
Iron is found in lentils, spinach, tofu, nori, sesame seeds, kidney beans, pumpkin seeds, venison, garbanzo beans and red meat, fish and poultry. Meat sources are easier iron sources for the body to absorb.
The Antioxidant CoQ10
CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant that is produced naturally by the body. It is found in the membrane of most cells and is necessary for the production of ATP (energy production) Ubiqinol is the bioavailable, active form of CoQ10 and the best form to take as a supplement. CoQ10 has been shown to improve egg and sperm health as it protects the DNA from free radicals.
In one study, 60 men between 20and 40 were given 150mg of Ubiqinol per day over a period of six months. Total sperm motility increased by 26%, quality of motile sperm increased by 41% and non-motile sperm decreased by 53%. This study suggests a significant advantage in taking CoQ10 to improve quality and motility of sperm.7.
CoQ10 is most abundantly found in organ meats, sardines and mackerel, but can also be found in dark leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale and broccoli, peanuts, legumes and soybeans. Though the amounts of leafy greens a person would need to consume to obtain therapeutic amounts of CoQ10 would be high.
B12, Iron and CoQ10 are essential vitamins, minerals and natural nutrients needed by the body not only for fertility but also throughout pregnancy.