Updated: Aug 28
Reproductive health is a reflection of our body's general state of health, and many lifestyle factors can impact fertility. A balanced diet, regular exercise, stress management, and avoiding harmful substances such as tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption are all important for promoting optimal fertility. In addition to these lifestyle factors, natural supplements may also be considered as a way to enhance fertility. We will review the evidence on natural supplements that may improve fertility outcomes. However, please note that while supplements can be a helpful addition to a fertility-enhancing regimen, they should not be relied upon as a sole treatment for infertility. Supplements are indeed supplemental as it is important to address all lifestyle factors as well as any medical conditions in a comprehensive approach to fertility. This information is meant to provide you with a starting point to consult with your healthcare provider and discuss the possible benefits of starting supplements for your unique situation.
1. Folic Acid
Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, is a crucial nutrient for female fertility. It has been shown to reduce the risk of birth defects, and it may also improve fertility by regulating ovulation and promoting the development of healthy eggs. The recommended daily intake of folic acid for women trying to conceive is 400-800 mcg per day.
While folic acid is readily available in many foods, including leafy green vegetables, legumes, and fortified grains, some women may benefit from taking a supplement. However, not all forms of folic acid are created equal. Some women have a genetic mutation in a gene called MTHFR, which can impair the body's ability to convert folic acid into its active form, known as 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF). In these cases, taking a supplement of 5-MTHF may be more beneficial than folic acid, as it is already in the active form that the body can use more readily.
Additionally, some studies have suggested that taking a combination of folic acid and 5-MTHF may be more effective at improving fertility outcomes than taking folic acid alone. This is because 5-MTHF can help improve the function of the blood vessels in the uterus, which can improve the chances of a successful implantation.
2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for many bodily functions, including fertility. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to ovulatory infertility in women, and low sperm count and motility in men. Supplementing with vitamin D may improve fertility outcomes, but the optimal dosage is not clear.
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin D varies depending on age and other factors. According to the National Institutes of Health, the RDA for vitamin D for adults aged 19-70 is 15 micrograms (600 IU) per day, while adults over the age of 70 require slightly more at 20 micrograms (800 IU) per day. However, some experts recommend higher doses of vitamin D for certain populations, such as those with low levels of vitamin D or who have a higher risk of deficiency.
It is generally considered safe to take up to 4,000 IU of vitamin D per day for adults, but doses above this amount can increase the risk of adverse effects such as nausea, vomiting, constipation, and weakness. Taking excessive doses of vitamin D for extended periods of time can also lead to elevated blood calcium levels, which can cause kidney damage and other health problems.
It is important to note that while vitamin D is an important nutrient that is essential for overall health, it is possible to get too much of it. The best way to determine the appropriate dose of vitamin D for your individual needs is to speak with a healthcare provider, who can take into account your age, medical history, and other factors.
3. Coenzyme Q10
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a naturally occurring antioxidant that plays a vital role in energy production within the mitochondria, which are the powerhouses of cells. CoQ10 also functions as a potent antioxidant, protecting cells from damage caused by free radicals. This antioxidant property is particularly important for reproductive health, as oxidative stress can negatively impact fertility by harming sperm, eggs, and reproductive tissues.
In men, CoQ10 has been shown to improve sperm count, motility, and morphology. It can also reduce oxidative stress on sperm, which can improve their overall quality. In women, CoQ10 may enhance egg quality and ovarian function. As women age, the quantity and quality of their eggs decrease, which can make it more challenging to conceive. CoQ10 has been proposed to potentially mitigate age-related decline in egg quality and may improve the chances of successful fertilization and embryo development.
While CoQ10 can be obtained through dietary sources such as organ meats, fatty fish, and whole grains, supplementation may be necessary. It is important to note that CoQ10 is generally considered safe with few reported side effects. However, it may interact with certain medications, so it is essential to discuss its use with a healthcare provider, especially if you are taking any medications or have any underlying medical conditions.The recommended dosage for CoQ10 is 200-600 mg per day.
4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish and some plant sources, have been associated with improved fertility outcomes. They may enhance sperm count and motility in men, and promote healthy ovarian function in women. The recommended dosage of omega-3s is 250-500 mg per day.
EPA and DHA are two types of omega-3 fatty acids that are particularly important for fertility. EPA has anti-inflammatory effects, which can help reduce inflammation in the reproductive system and improve egg quality. DHA, on the other hand, is important for the development of the fetal brain and nervous system. When choosing an omega-3 supplement for fertility, it is important to look for a supplement that contains both EPA and DHA in balanced amounts.
Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a role in many bodily processes, including fertility. It is involved in numerous physiological processes, including DNA synthesis, hormone production, and cell division. For men, zinc is a key component of sperm production and development. It is necessary for the maintenance of healthy sperm count, motility, and morphology. Zinc deficiency in men has been associated with reduced sperm quality and increased risk of infertility.
In women, zinc is important for proper egg development, ovulation, and implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus. It supports the production and regulation of hormones involved in the menstrual cycle and reproductive function. Moreover, zinc acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect reproductive cells from oxidative damage, which can impact fertility. It also supports the immune system, which is vital for overall reproductive health.
Good dietary sources of zinc include oysters, red meat, poultry, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. While it is important to obtain zinc through a balanced diet, some individuals may benefit from zinc supplementation, especially if they have a known deficiency or certain risk factors for zinc insufficiency. The recommended daily intake of zinc for men and women is 11 mg and 8 mg, respectively.
6. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that may improve fertility outcomes by protecting sperm and eggs from oxidative damage. It has also been shown to improve endometrial thickness in women undergoing fertility treatments. The recommended daily intake of vitamin E is 15 mg per day.
It is important to note that taking high doses of vitamin E for extended periods of time can increase the risk of bleeding and may interfere with the body's ability to absorb certain nutrients. It is always best to speak with a healthcare provider before taking this or any new supplement.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a role in a wide range of bodily functions, including muscle and nerve function, blood pressure regulation, bone health, and potentially reproductive health. It has been shown to have a potential role in regulating hormones that are important for fertility, such as luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). In addition, magnesium also has antioxidant properties, which may help to protect reproductive cells from damage caused by oxidative stress.
The optimal dose of magnesium for hormonal health can vary depending on individual needs and specific health conditions. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for magnesium for adults is around 310-420 mg per day for men and 255-320 mg per day for women, depending on age. However, when it comes to addressing specific hormonal health concerns, higher doses of magnesium may be recommended.
It's important to note that magnesium can have a laxative effect, especially in higher doses or when using certain forms of magnesium, such as magnesium citrate. It is always recommended to consult with your healthcare provider, who can evaluate your specific needs, health status, and potential interactions with any medications you may be taking.
L-arginine is an amino acid that plays a role in the production of nitric oxide, which helps to relax blood vessels and improve circulation. It may improve fertility outcomes in men by increasing sperm count and motility, and in women by promoting healthy ovarian function. Additionally, L-arginine may support the thickening and development of the uterine lining, which is essential for successful implantation of a fertilized egg.
The recommended dosage of L-arginine is 1-4 grams per day. It is important to note that L-arginine supplementation may have certain contraindications or interactions with medications, such as blood pressure-lowering drugs, and should be discussed with a healthcare provider.
In conclusion, natural supplements can play an important
supportive role in enhancing fertility by addressing nutrient deficiencies, promoting hormonal balance, and improving reproductive health. While this article has highlighted some evidence-based supplements, it is important to note that this list is by no means exhaustive or directive.
Every individual's fertility journey is unique, and it is essential to approach fertility concerns holistically, considering factors such as diet, lifestyle, exercise, and stress management. Supplements should be seen as complementary to a healthy lifestyle and not as a standalone solution for fertility challenges.
Before initiating any new supplements, it is strongly recommended to consult with a healthcare provider or fertility specialist who can assess your specific needs, medical history, and potential interactions with medications. They can provide personalized recommendations and guide you towards the most appropriate supplements, dosages, and durations.
Achieving and maintaining optimal fertility requires a comprehensive approach that encompasses multiple aspects of your overall well-being. By nurturing your body with a balanced diet, engaging in regular physical activity, managing stress, and seeking professional guidance, you can take positive steps towards supporting your fertility naturally.