Nutritional Supplements & Fertility

Nutritional supplements & fertility overview

  • A healthy diet, including supplements of needed vitamins and minerals, can greatly improve a couple’s chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy.
  •  Anyone undergoing fertility treatment should avoid taking herbal supplements during treatment, unless recommended to do so by a doctor.
  • No matter what nutritional supplements a pregnant woman had been taking prior to pregnancy, she should check with her doctor before continuing those supplements to ensure her health and her baby’s.

How do nutritional supplements affect fertility?

A healthy diet can greatly improve a couple’s chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy, and taking supplements can ensure that they are both getting essential vitamins and minerals.

A man’s fertility may benefit from supplements in as little as two to three months, which corresponds to the time needed to make new sperm. For women wanting to get pregnant, doctors often recommend regular supplements of folic acid, which is commonly found in prenatal vitamins. Prenatal vitamins also contain other ingredients such as iron and calcium that are important in fertility and prenatal nutrition.

Will herbal supplements help me get pregnant?

Unless ordered by another doctor, fertility doctors typically recommend both women and men avoid taking herbal supplements during fertility treatment. Little is known about the effects of herbal supplements on reproductive function.

Some research, including studies conducted at Loma Linda University Center for Fertility, indicates that certain supplements may even be harmful. For example, research has shown that excessive zinc inhibits sperm motility (movement) and fertilizing capacity.

Other supplements for fertility enhancement

An appropriate multivitamin includes the majority of vitamins and minerals listed below, although a fertility doctor may recommend a specific program.

  • Folic acid is one of the most important ingredients for normal development of the baby’s brain and spinal cord.
  • Zinc (in moderation – work with your doctor to determine health levels of zinc) helps improves the general quality and motility (movement) of sperm. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also linked low levels of zinc to early miscarriages.
  • L-arginine can improve blood flow to the uterus and ovaries and also aids in the production of cervical mucus, which plays an important role in egg fertilization and during pregnancy.
  • B vitamins are thought to aid ovaries in releasing an egg around ovulation; in particular, vitamin B6 also increases levels of progesterone, which is necessary to maintain a pregnancy.
  • Coenzyme Q10 appears to improve egg and sperm health.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil help balance hormones and promote blood flow to the reproductive organs.
  • Vitamins C and E have powerful antioxidant properties for both men and women, and vitamin E can boost sperm health.
  • Vitamin D, at the appropriate and correct amount, has been linked to higher fertility rates.
  • Vitamin D3 research completed at LLU Center for Fertility shows that because the vitamin acts differently on the two types of cells in an embryo, caution is suggested when used as part of infertility treatment. Read more about the study. 

Risks & side effects of nutritional supplements

Regardless of what nutritional supplements a pregnant woman had been taking prior to pregnancy, she should always check with her doctor before continuing any supplements in order it’s best to protect herself and her developing baby. As noted, herbal supplements have been shown to have a negative impact on fertility and should be avoided.