Fertility Friday: Fertility-Enhancing Vitamins and Minerals (guest post)
By Guest Blogger on September 2, 2011
Below is a comprehensive list of essential vitamins and minerals for fertility. Written by an omnivore, the best food sources are given based on animal produce where appropriate. For those of you who don’t eat meat or animal products, please research your food source alternatives and do have a test done or ask your friendly vegetarian host blogger – moi! if you are unsure of what to supplement with. Now over to Amy…
Vitamin D deficiency is epidemic in America (& Denmark), with links to low-fat dieting as Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, supplementation and enhancement of foods with synthetic Vitamin D (D2) which actually increases the deficiency of true Vitamin D and our recent fear of sun exposure. Vitamin D deficiency is detrimental to overall health in general and recent studies link inadequate vitamin D with infertility and miscarriage. Before supplementing, you may need to have your levels checked. Eating Vitamin D rich food, and spending some time in mid-day sun however, is perfectly acceptable.
Sources of Vitamin D: Cod Liver Oil, Lard (non-hydrogenated, only from sustainably raised, pastured pigs), Fish Eggs (roe), small oily fish (salmon, anchovies, herring and sardines), Butterfat/Cream (organic, raw preferred from grass-fed cows ONLY), and Egg Yolks from pastured chickens.
Like Vitamin D, Vitamin A deficiency is widespread, in most part due to the low-fat diet mantra of the last few decades. We simply don’t include Vitamin A rich foods in our “modern” diet. Vitamin A is crucial for eye, brain and skin health. It is a component for numerous body functions and plays a role in healthy cervical fluid development. Beta carotene (found in orange vegetables like carrots, bell peppers and sweet potatoes) is NOT Vitamin A.
It is a precursor only and must undergo a long and lengthy conversion process in the body and the vast majority of people can NOT make this conversion. Infants and the elderly can not make it at all. It is an extremely inefficient means of creating Vitamin A as it takes many, many molecules of Beta Carotene to produce one molecule of Vitamin A and this is assuming that you could even make the conversion to begin with. Synthetic Vitamin A is highly toxic and should definitely be avoided.
Sources of Vitamin A: Cod Liver Oil (Green Pasture products), Liver (from grassfed animals ONLY), Fish Eggs (roe), Shellfish, Butterfat/Cream (organic, raw preferred from grass-fed cows ONLY), and Egg Yolks from pastured chickens.
A potent antioxidant, Vitamin C is good for both male and female infertility. It is essential for good sperm health and plays a role in healthy ovulation.
Vitamin C is an entire complex of vitamins and components and is NOT ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid is simply the antioxidant that protects the entire C complex and isolated ascorbic acid is not an appropriate supplement. Food sources of Vitamin C are hard to regulate as shipping, picking before ripe and non-organic farming methods contribute to a steady loss of Vitamin C. In fact, many non-organically grown oranges have been found to contain NO Vitamin C at all!
Amla or acerola berries are good supplemental forms of the entire Vitamin C complex. Aim for at least 2,000 mg a day pre-conception (or to bowel tolerance). It’s best to start slowly and build up over a couple of days (i.e. 500, 1000, 1500, 2000)
Sources of Vitamin C: papaya, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, raw milk, strawberries, oranges, sauerkraut (naturally, traditionally fermented).
Folic Acid is well known as a necessary vitamin in early pregnancy to prevent complications, but it is most beneficial when taken for several months before the pregnancy as well as during the pregnancy. It helps cell division and promotes ovulation. Folate also plays an important role in the formation of DNA and RNA. Some natural doctors recommend taking up to 5,000 micrograms a day and women hoping to get pregnant should take at least 2,000 micrograms a day.
Sources of Folic Acid: liver (from grassfed animals ONLY), greens, lentils, nuts (properly prepared by soaking and dehydrating) and pastured chicken.
Absolutely crucial for healthy reproduction, Zinc is very important for cell division including sperm production and ovulation. Zinc is also necessary for a variety of normal body functions, including the proper production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Zinc is best when taken in combination with B-vitamins.
Sources of Zinc: Red meat (pastured/grass-fed), shellfish (like lobster and shrimp) and mollusks (oysters, clams, mussels, etc)
As a potent antioxidant, Selenium helps protect the body from free radicals. It protects the sperm and egg as well. Selenium is known to help cell division and might prevent miscarriage. It also plays an important role in the formation and regulation of testosterone.
Sources of Selenium: Brazil nuts (properly prepared), grassfed beef, tuna (sustainably farmed, smaller fish preferred), pastured egg yolks.
Deficiency of B-vitamins is common in anyone who consumes large amounts of processed foods, grains and most certainly sugars. Refined carbohydrate and sugar consumption drastically depletes the body of nutrients required for sugar handling, most notably B-1, or thiamine. Optimizing B vitamin levels can increase LH (lutenizing hormone) and FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) to improve fertility. These water-soluble vitamins work together to promote healthy nerves, eyes, skin, hair, liver, muscle tone, and cardiovascular function. They also protect against depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders.
Of the B-complex vitamins we know about, B-12 can only be found in usable form in animal foods. Deficiency in Vitamin B-12 can lead to anemia and nervous disorders, and B-12 is necessary to maintain fertility and to promote normal growth and development.
Sources of B-Vitamins: Fresh organic fruits and vegetables, soaked nuts, seeds and legumes, seafood, organ meats, pastured egg yolks, raw milk, and whole grains (particularly the more ancient varieties). Cultured foods, including kombucha, are also sources of B-Vitamins.
Another fat-soluble nutrient, Vitamin K-12 is a powerful aide in mineral absorption. You can find it in the fatty parts of animals that feed on young green growing plants and organisms.
Sources of Vitamin K: Organ meats from grass-fed/pastured animals, Fish, Shellfish, Fish Eggs (roe), and Butter (organic, raw from grass-fed cows preferred) or can supplement with butter oil (from Green Pasture products).
Vitamin E is necessary for circulation, tissue repair, and healing. If you consume too many inflammatory foods or have an unhealthy balance of Omega 6: Omega 3 fats, consuming extra Vitamin E may help offset some of the damage caused by that diet.
Sources of Vitamin E: Butter (organic, raw from grassfed cows), organ meats (from grassfed, healthy animals), Properly prepared grains, nuts, seeds and legumes and organic dark green leafy vegetables
Other Nutrients to Consider
Iron: Important for protein, DNA, essential for healthy blood.
Sources of Iron: Red meat (grass fed), liver (from grass fed animals), and pastured egg yolks.
Choline: Lowers risk of neural defects, cell membrane structure, and protects liver from accumulating fat.
Sources of Choline: Liver (from grass fed animals), pastured egg yolks, and pastured pork.
DHA: Important for proper brain development.
Sources of DHA: Cod Liver Oil, Liver (from grass fed animals) Butter (organic, raw from grass fed cows), Fish Eggs, Pastured Egg Yolks.
Amy Love, NTP, FES, CILC is a board-certified nutritional therapist, certified inspired life coach and owner of Real Food Whole Health- an online resource for real food nutrition, traditional food recipes, holistic wellness, education, & nutritional therapy consultations. Amy has a passion for self and family wellness on all levels- physical, mental, emotional and spiritual- and offers support for the whole family with a special emphasis on natural fertility, pregnancy and post-partum care. Added by Caroline: and doesn’t Amy just have the best surname ever?! LOVE it!