When trying for a baby, what you eat should come high on your agenda as you will be nourishing the egg and sperm cells that will become your baby. Most importantly you should try to follow a sensible overall eating plan and avoid unhealthy diets that unnecessarily exclude certain foods as there is no hard evidence that these aid conception. As a rule your diet should be made up of the following; 55% complex carbohydrates, 30% fat, 15% protein, plus eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables, and drink around least 2 litres of fluid per day (ideally water).
Here’s some golden rules to follow to ensure you’re taking in the best foods to boost your fertility:
There is no one super food that is going to improve your chances of conception but there are lots of foods with fertility enhancing properties to try.
Some foods are associated with sexual desire and fertility because they look like the reproductive organs. Whether they work or not, they are certainly rich in vitamins and minerals that are essential for fertility.
Foods: Pomegranates, avocados, bananas, figs, dates, asparagus, almonds, garlic and oysters.
Tryptophan and tyrosine are important for making hormone-like, good-mood substances in the brain
Foods: You’ll find tryptophan in parsley, papaya, dates, bananas, celery, carrots, dried apricots, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds and almonds. Tyrosine is found in lean meats, such as turkey, fish (try cod, sardines and sea bass), crab, kidney or mung beans and oats.
Sperm and egg cells are highly susceptible to damage by free radicals, which can be neutralised by antioxidants. All fruit and vegetables contain antioxidants but you need to eat a whole rainbow of bright colours as well as your greens, so stock up on the following:
Foods: Blueberries, raspberries, cherries, grapes, oranges, peaches, plums and tomatoes.
Zinc and Vitamin C are the top dietary elements to improve sperm quality and volume. You’ll find zinc in brazil nuts, eggs, fish, seeds and grains. Foods rich in Vitamin C are green leafy vegetables, kiwi fruit and tomatoes.
Secretions produced in a woman’s cycle are alkaline which is the environment in which sperm is transported. High alkaline foods are great for a fertility diet so try;
Foods: Asparagus, bamboo shoots, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, celery, cucumbers, leeks, onions, potatoes, apples, avocados, cherries, mangoes, olives and peaches.
In addition to a healthy balanced diet, there are some vitamins that are essential for fertility and to prepare the body for pregnancy. Try to incorporate the below into your diet:
|Vitamin:||Good for?||Found in?|
|Vitamin A||Important for follicular development, embryo growth, thyroid health and immunity.||Full fat dairy, eggs, oily fish.|
|Betacarotone||High levels of betacarotene in the corpus luteum positively correlate with strong progesterone levels. Betacarotene is also an anti-oxidant, thought to help protect eggs in the ovary as they mature.||Yellow, red, orange fruit and vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables.|
|Vitamin E||A big antioxidant and works with vitamin C to reduce free radical damage. Thins blood and regulates menstrual flow.||Wheat germ, nut and seed oils, green leafy vegetables, nuts.|
|Vitamin B6||Boosts serotonin and dopamine which control FSH and LH. Also helps to regulate oestrogen and progesterone levels.||Whole grains, bananas, potatoes, chickpeas, lentils, seeds, fish, milk products, oats, avocados.|
|Folic Acid||Prevents neutral tube defects and is required to be taken as a 400mcg supplement at least once a month. Preferably start taking three months before conception.||Green leafy vegetables, pulses, oats, whole grains.|
|Vitamin B12||Good for red blood cell formation, helps regulate ovulation and works with folic acid to prevent NTD’s.||Meat, chicken, dairy, fish, eggs. Vegans should supplement accordingly.|
|Vitamin C||A major antioxidant and helps to regulate ovulation.||Green leafy vegetables, strawberries, melon, mango, citrus fruits, kiwi fruit and tomatoes.|
|Vitamin D||Studies show this is more and more important for fertility and many women are deficient. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to miscarriage.||Sunlight, eggs, oily fish such as herring, salmon, sardines, tuna and mackerel. Some foods are fortified with vitamin D such as breakfast cereals and bread.|
|Iron||Forms red blood cells. Low iron levels are linked to infertility.||Red meat, chicken, fish, eggs, pulses, dark green leafy vegetables, dried apricots, prunes and seeds.|
|Iodine||Vital to support the functioning of the thyroid gland which has an important influence on fertility. Crucial for foetal brain development in pregnancy.||Fish, shellfish, dairy products, iodised salt.|
|Magnesium||Low levels can be connected to hormone irregularities and miscarriage||Green leafy vegetables, nuts in particularly almonds, seeds.|
|Selenium||A powerful antioxidant that protects egg development and the embryo from free-radical induced damage.||Seafood, eggs, garlic, the onion family, broccoli, mushrooms, asparagus.|
|Zinc||Important for gene regulatory hormones and is crucial for the synthesis of DNA and the receptor proteins for oestrogen, proestrogen and testosterone.||Oysters, seafood, meat, sunflower seeds, wheat germ.|
Medical information provided by Zita West, Midwife, Fertility and Pregnancy Expert.