In both the female and male body, the balance of hormones has to be just right for conception to occur and for pregnancy to proceed. Nutrients that are in excess or that are in depletion can throw off balance and disrupt the pregnancy process. When we choose whole foods for our diet, we are increasing our chances of obtaining the most nutrients we need. Whole foods include fruits, fresh vegetables, unrefined grains, beans, nuts, seeds, eggs, and small whole fish. It’s important to make sure you’re choosing healthy whole superfoods that have an abundant supply of each of the following vitamins and minerals.
B-complex vitamins need to be replenished all the time, as they are water soluble and passed out of the body with urination. Vitamins B6 and B12 are particularly important for fertility and hormonal function. Fortified cereals, fortified soy-based meat substitutes, baked potatoes with skin, bananas, light-meat chicken and turkey, eggs, and spinach are all great sources of B6 and beef, clams, mussels, crabs, salmon, poultry, soybeans, and fortified foods have healthy amounts of B12.
Folic Acid, also known as folate or B9, is essential for the production of genetic material in conjunction with vitamin B12. The body cannot store Folic Acid so it must be replenished regularly. It is found naturally in dark green leafy vegetables, apricots, avocados, okra, asparagus, citrus fruits, carrots, egg yolks, liver, rice, melons, whole grains, and yeast's. The lack of folic acid can cause neural tube defects in children. These are disorders that effect the spinal cord and brain.
Zinc is an essential component of genetic material and plays an important role in the fertility of men (affecting sperm count) and women. Zinc is vital to healthy cell division, so healthy zinc levels are essential at conception. Zinc occurs naturally in oats, rye, almonds, pumpkin seeds and peas.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFA's) work on every system of the body and are essential for healthy hormone production. EFA's can prevent blood from clotting and inflammation, which can be helpful to women who have suffered from recurrent miscarriages (if clotting was an issue). They are primarily found in fish oils and nuts/seeds.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant. Low vitamin E levels can be a cause for subfertility in men and women. Found in wheat germ cereal, sunflower seeds, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, brown rice, eggs, milk, organ meats, soy beans and sweet potatoes.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant, helpful to sperm production and may play a role in healthy ovulation. Vitamin C is essential to the normal healthy functioning of many systems in the human body. Excellent sources include blackcurrants, raw red peppers, guavas and citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits. Other good sources include strawberries, kiwifruit, broccoli and Brussel sprouts.
Iron aids in the production of red blood cells and carries oxygen around our bodies. The body can lose iron through periods, childbirth or blood loss (including blood donation). Leafy green vegetables, beans, shellfish, red meat, poultry, and soy food products are all good sources of iron.
Vitamin A is an antioxidant essential at conception for the developing embryo. Natural sources include carrots, tomatoes, cabbage, and spinach.
Dr. Challotine Cius-Bonds, DNM, ND, HHP, NHP, MH, NC