But, when it comes to fertility, there are some universal truths.
Do the words “getting pregnant” appear on your list of resolutions for the year 2021? Congratulations. There are so many things we know in 2021 that your parents didn’t know back when they were trying to conceive. We now have a better understanding of the roles nutrition and lifestyle choices play in reaching fertility goals. Optimizing your body’s preparedness for carrying a child is the smartest first step you can take.
Start thinking about your fertility goals today, even if you are not planning to conceive for a year or more. A healthy fertility diet and lifestyle not only will improve the likelihood of conception, but also lead to better health overall for you and the baby, during pregnancy and beyond. We believe that the time period before pregnancy is crucial. Fertility planning plays a necessary part in children’s neurological development and so much more.
Before prenatal care, let’s talk about pre-prenatal care.
Think about nutrition, supplementation, lifestyle choices, and your natural cycles. These four areas contribute greatly to the beginning of children’s lives.
1. Nutrition: the foods you put in your body affect your fertility.
Your dietary choices not only influence your weight, alertness, sleep, and overall health. Diet also plays a key role in helping to reach your fertility goals, as well. Whole, fresh foods have been a staple for thousands of years, all across the world. And today, even with so many advancements in technology, whole foods still play key roles. In other words, nature got it right long ago. Listen to nature as you begin your parenting journey.
Here’s what to eat when trying to conceive.
Nutrient-Dense Vegetables and Low-Glycemic Fruits
To start your pregnancy off on ideal footing, you’ll want to consume plenty of vegetables and fruits—because they contain folate and antioxidants, which have been shown to play a role in health when pursuing fertility goals (1).
Certain vegetables and fruits have more nutritional weight than others.
Folate-Rich Vegetables and Fruits for Fertility and Beyond
Dark, leafy greens like organic spinach and kale are rich in antioxidants like folate, iron, zinc, and antioxidants. Folate is a key nutrient when pursuing your fertility goals and during all stages of pregnancy. Folate contributes to your body’s methylation process, which plays a role in the quality of your eggs. Folate can also be found in oranges and avocados.
Low-Sugar Fruits and Antioxidants for Fertility
Because your egg health is negatively affected by spikes in insulin, limit sugar, simple carbs, and high-glycemic fruits like bananas, grapes, and dried fruits. Berries, like blueberries, are a good, low-sugar option. Blueberries are also a strong antioxidant source. And while antioxidants benefit your health in general, they also protect your eggs from free-radicals in your system.
Eat Vegetables with Phytonutrient Indole-3-Carbinol
Cooked cruciferous vegetables, like cauliflower and brussels sprouts, contain the phytonutrient indole-3-carbinol. Indole-3-carbinol matters to fertility because it promotes estrogen conversion and helps maintain a healthy estrogen-progesterone balance.
How many servings of vegetables and low-sugar fruits per day?
Aim to eat around six to eight servings a day. One serving size is usually considered to be between four and six ounces. And remember that there is a difference between eating 6-8 servings of spinach and blueberries and eating 6-8 servings of bananas and grapes (2).
Get your minimum 6 servings per day by eating 2 with breakfast, 2 with lunch, and 2 with dinner.
Sources of Protein
Along with fruits and vegetables, consuming quality protein like fish, legumes, pastured eggs, and grass-fed beef can build up your reproductive readiness. These proteins assist in the manufacturing of the hormones, enzymes, and blood cells needed for more supported fertility.
Meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy are also great sources of vitamin B12
which is necessary for the creation of DNA and supports brain and nervous system development. If you are a non-meat eater or vegan, unless you are taking a supplement with vitamin B12, it can be difficult to get your daily requirement for vitamin B12. Remember to avoid heavily-processed meats and dairy products.
How much protein per day? Aim to get about 0.36 grams of protein per pound (0.8 grams per kg) of body weight. This amounts to about 35 to 50 grams per day.
Your body also needs healthy fats as they play an important role in hormone production and ovulation. But if you are looking to become pregnant, you should stave off saturated fats.
Make sure you’re consuming monounsaturated fats–like olive oil and nuts such as almonds, cashews, and macadamias. And for all of you avocado lovers, here is some fantastic news: avocados are rich in the “good” fats. So enjoy avocado slices with your breakfast or have some guacamole later on.
How much fat per day? If you eat about 2000 calories per day, aim to get about 45-75 grams of healthy fats per day.
Among those who may be at risk for iron deficiency are menstruating women, vegans and vegetarians, and pregnant women. Seek iron-rich foods to support your overall health while you pursue your fertility goals.
To help extract the most amount of iron, it is best to pair the iron-containing food with foods rich in Vitamin C, such as oranges, broccoli, strawberries, and dark leafy greens.
Snacks In Between Meals
For snacking, choose nutrient-dense nuts and seeds over salty potato chips and sweets, which can cause unwanted insulin spikes which may not promote egg health. Insulin plays a key role in the regulation of reproduction in addition to metabolism, (3).
Nuts and seeds help to regulate your body weight and provide great sources of protein, healthy fats, fiber, and vitamins and minerals. This is ideal snacking as you pursue your fertility goals.
A standard snack serving is about 1.5 ounces.
Bridging the Gap
No matter how healthy you eat, it can still be difficult to get enough of all the nutrients your body needs from food every day. Also, many nutrients, like folate, can break down when your food is chopped or cooked. We recommend you follow the above guidelines and bridge the nutritional gap with Ready. Set. Go! Fertility Formula for Women, formulated with specific nutrition for your fertility goals.
Want More? Your top 10 fertility questions answered.
2. Supplementation:additional nutrients can help reach fertility goals.
Folate is very important when pursuing fertility goals and pregnancy. It is needed for healthy neurodevelopment. It supports the creation of DNA and plays a central role in methylation, a biological process required for healthy eggs (4, 5, 6, 7).
Many multivitamins use folic acid, because folic acid is a cheaper and more stable form of folate. In contrast, methylfolate is folate in finished form, which means your body can utilize it right away without any further metabolism. Additionally, around 60% of people can’t properly metabolize folic acid due to the MTHFR gene variation. Women pursuing fertility should remain conscious of this variation and use methylfolate forms instead. With all of this in mind, we formulated Ready. Set. Go! Fertility Formula For Women (and all of our multivitamins) with L-Methylfolate, the active form of folate our body uses, which also bypasses the MTHFR gene variation. We chose this active form of folate so that you are supported when trying to pursue your fertility goals, whether you have this genetic variation or not. If you don’t know if you have the MTHFR gene variation, our fertility formula with methylfolate removes the guesswork.
How much folate? When taking methylfolate to help with your fertility goals, consume between 400 and 800 mcg daily.
Vitamin B6 is another nutrient that women should consider as they work towards their fertility goals. B6 helps to build a healthy uterine lining. B6 deficiencies can create imbalances of the two hormones estrogen and progesterone, which are crucial for fertility (8).
How much vitamin B6? Look to take between 50 and 100 mcg per day.
Iron supplies oxygen to the body and the brain by attaching to red blood cells. It helps red blood cell production and promotes vibrant health as you pursue your fertility goals.
How much Iron? Take between 18 and 27 milligrams of iron each day. Iron chelate is the non-constipating version of iron. Among those who may be at risk for iron deficiency are menstruating women, vegans and vegetarians, and pregnant women. Consult your medical provider for your personal iron needs.
Do not neglect your daily Iodine intake. Iodine helps your thyroid function, which assists with your menstrual cycle and fertility goals, (9). And once pregnant, iodine plays a vital part in thyroidal, central nervous system, and brain development.
How much Iodine? 150 to 200 mcg per day is recommended, which is lower than normal because you are trying to conceive.
Around 90% of the U.S. population does not take in enough choline, according to the Choline Council. Choline helps with neurological development at the early stages, including signaling, cognitive function, memory, focus, and attention.
How much Choline? Women looking to become pregnant should supplement with around 400 mg/daily.
DHA, or Omega-3 Fatty Acids, play a role in ovulation and the production of progesterone. After conception, DHA plays an important part in baby’s early brain growth and development (10).
How much DHA? Around 300 to 500 mg/day is recommended.
Vitamin D, in the form D3, is the only vitamin made by the human body. It boosts immunity and mood and also supports nerve and brain cell functions (11). Vitamin D helps pregnant women absorb calcium, which in turn gets used to build their babies’ bones and teeth.
How much vitamin D3? Women looking to get pregnant should have their levels checked, but most women should take between 2000 and 6000 IU daily.
Supplementing with probiotics can support your health as you pursue your fertility goals. The colony of bacteria, yeasts, and viruses living inside your gut is called the intestinal microbiome and these organisms help keep you healthy. Beyond the benefits at the local GI level, a healthy microbiome helps produce the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin and can bring benefits to the whole body, including the brain. For women, probiotics are especially useful because many of the same species of microflora in our gut are also a natural part of the uterine and vaginal microbiome (12).
Look for probiotics with: 50 billion+ CFUs with multi-strain benefits of 15 different probiotic strains.
By following the above food guidelines and bridging the gap with the supplement recommendations, you will have a strong nutritional foundation when trying to conceive. If managing all of these different supplements in the recommended amounts is a bit overwhelming, we have you covered with Ready. Set. Go! Fertility Supplement for Women. It’s a complete 3-in-1 formula of herbs, antioxidants, and a methylated prenatal multivitamin to promote vibrant health as you pursue your fertility goals.
3. Lifestyle:your day-to-day activities matter, even when it comes to fertility.
According to studies, sleep dysregulation may affect fertility. Issues with sleep patterns can potentially affect the brain’s ability to release hormones that help with ovulation. Lack of quality sleep over longer periods of time can lead to lower levels of estrogen, progesterone, prolactin, luteinizing hormone (LH), and follicle-stimulating hormone. Because these hormones regulate menstrual cycles and ovulation, they are tied to fertility, (13).
Along with restful sleep, many prospective parents wonder about the effects of exercise. We recommend at least some type of physical activity while you are beginning to prepare to try and get pregnant. Exercise can be very beneficial, but it is most effective when combined with nutrition, supplementation, and healthy sleep.
Two studies done in 2012 and 2016 concluded that moderate exercise is beneficial to almost all women who are trying to conceive. They also concluded that high-intensity exercise, defined as more than 5 hours per week may only be beneficial for women with high body-fat percentages. In some cases, high-intensity exercise for more than 5 hours per week may actually reduce chances of getting pregnant for other women (14).
There is not much proof that one exercise is better than another in terms of fertility for women. Still, activities like walking, running, yoga, cycling, swimming, and weight-training are generally positive. So talk with your doctor about your fitness and fertility needs.
Heavy drinking can inhibit conception. Even moderate drinkers should consider their choices, if they have also set fertility goals, because drinking can influence menstruation cycles. Once pregnant, alcohol can harm a developing baby’s physical and mental development. It is recommended not to drink alcohol while pursuing your fertility goals (15).
4. Tracking:your body’s natural cycle sets the pace. Pay attention to it.
Couples who are wanting to get pregnant need to focus on the woman’s most fertile window. Ovulation tracking–a fertility awareness tool–looks for the three optimal days. These are the two days before ovulation and then through that first day of ovulation; they are the ideal days for conceiving.
The Calendar Method
The Calendar Method works best when a woman’s menstrual cycle stays fairly consistent from month to month. For a thirty-five-day cycle, ovulation would occur around the twenty-first day.
The Standard Days Method
The Standard Days Method tracks cycles between twenty-six and thirty-two days. If your cycle is less regular, these methods will not be as helpful.
Basal Body Temperature, (BBT charting)
Your Basal Body Temperature, (BBT charting), can track ovulation. If you go more than a couple of days with an elevated temperature, that means you have ovulated.
Ovulation Predictor Kits
Ovulation Predictor Kitswork like home pregnancy tests. Using the test, color patterns in your urine will indicate that levels of your luteinizing hormone (LH) have increased.
Saliva Ferning Tests
When you are ovulating, your saliva will undergo chemical changes and crystals (which are shaped like ferns) form after it dries. Ovulation usually happens one to three days after you see those crystals.
Your cervical mucus also can tell you whether or not ovulation is close. When tracking it, your cervical mucus will start to get clearer and thinner as you near ovulation. Combined with BBT charting, the two methods can be very accurate (16).
Every baby should have their best start in life.
This should start before conception.
There were a few fertility aids on the market, but none of them had methylated vitamins. And our research told me that they could truly help support fertility.
I developed a formula with methylated vitamins and ancient, but well-researched, herbs that have been time-tested.
And it was the first of its kind: first with methylated vitamins and first in a once-daily tablet for convenience.
I’m very happy when we get a message from a customer letting us know that she got a positive pregnancy test.
This unique, vegan supplement is actually three products in one: an herbal supplement, an antioxidant blend, and a complete prenatal with methylated vitamins. This 3-in-1 combination works to cover the range of needs that a woman’s changing physiology demands as she tries to reach her pregnancy goals.
Herbal Supplement is a blend of time-tested herbal nutrients, such as Ashwagandha and Vitex, that promote vibrant health as you pursue your fertility goals.
Prenatal Vitamin, including methylated vitamins and chelated minerals, supports your body so it has plenty of nutrients that your baby will need for healthy development.
Antioxidant Blend supports your body’s natural defenses, contributing to overall health and well-being to help your body function.
A pregnancy is life-changing and transformative. People refer to it as “a journey” for a reason.
Want More? Your top 10 fertility questions answered.
Madhavi Gupta, M.D. is the founder and CEO of Best Nest Wellness. Dr. Gupta is board-certified neurologist and has won The People’s Choice Award as a favorite doctor three years in a row. She holds a degree in biochemistry and humanities from MIT, completed her neurology residency in New York City, and completed her fellowship in headache medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
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(2) Most Americans Eat Much Less than Recommended Amounts of Fruits and Vegetables, Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Volume 106, Issue 9, 2006, Pages 1371-1379
(3) Insulin: Its role in the central control of reproduction, Physiology & Behavior, Volume 133, 2014, Pages 197-206.
(4) Folate and neural tube defects, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 85, Issue 1, January 2007, Pages 285S–288S.
(5) Mitochondrial function and toxicity: Role of the B vitamin family on mitochondrial energy metabolism, Elsevier, Chemico-Biological Interactions, Volume 163, Issues 1-2, 27 October 2006, Pages 94-112.
(6) Folate and Vitamin B12: Function and Importance in Cognitive Development, Bhutta ZA, Hurrell RF, Rosenberg IH (eds): Meeting Micronutrient Requirements for Health and Development. Nestlé Nutr Inst Workshop Ser Nestec Ltd., Vevey/S. Karger AG., Basel, 2012, vol 70, pp 161–171
(7) Folate and DNA methylation: a review of molecular mechanisms and the evidence for folate's role. Adv Nutr. 2012;3(1):21-38. doi:10.3945/an.111.000992
(8) Modulation of steroid receptor‐mediated gene expression by vitamin B6, Volume8, Issue3, FASEB, March 1994, Pages 343-349.
(9) Chung HR. Iodine and thyroid function. Ann Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2014;19(1):8-12. doi:10.6065/apem.2014.19.1.8
(10) Dietary fat intake and reproductive hormone concentrations and ovulation in regularly menstruating women, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 103, Issue 3, March 2016, Pages 868–877.
(11) Vitamin D and Depression: Where is all the Sunshine? Issues Ment Health Nurs. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2011 Jun 1.
(12) Quantification, isolation and characterization of Bifidobacterium from the vaginal microbiomes of reproductive aged women, Anaerobe, Volume 47, 2017, Pages 145-156.
(13) Circadian and sleep-dependent regulation of hormone release in humans. Recent Progress in Hormone Research. 1999 ;54:97-130; discussion 130-2.
(14) Body mass index, physical activity and fecundability in a North American preconception cohort study, Volume 106, Issue 2, P451-459, August 01, 2016.
(15) The impact of lifestyle factors on reproductive performance in the general population and those undergoing infertility treatment: a review. Human Reproduction Update, 13(3), 209-223.
(16) Detection of ovulation, a review of currently available methods, Bioeng Transl Med. 2017;2(3):238-246. doi:10.1002/btm2.10058
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