What You Eat Could Play A Part In Fertility And Conception
By Lucy Gornall, Health Journalist of the Year (HFMA) and personal trainer specialising in pre and post-natal fitness
A healthy, nutritious diet is important throughout every stage of life, but when you’re trying to conceive, it becomes even more key. This isn’t just to aid conception, but also to ensure that if you do fall pregnant, your body can provide all the right nutrients for the growing foetus.
In general, The British Nutrition Foundation advises that women who are trying for a baby should adopt a healthy, varied and balanced diet, including plenty of starchy foods, a spectrum of colourful fruits and vegetables, protein sources and some dairy. As with the general population, food and drinks that contain high amounts of fat and sugar should be limited.
Maintaining a healthy weight is really important at this point. Aim for a BMI of 20-25 as having a BMI classed as overweight or underweight, can, according to the BNF, be associated with infertility.
1. Ensure Plenty Of Folic Acid
The NHS advise that women trying to conceive should take 400 micrograms (µg) of folic acid every day before conception, and then into pregnancy, up to 12 weeks. The NHS also advise women to take an extra 5 milligrams (5mg) if you have previously had a pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect, or if you or the baby’s potential father have a family history of a neural tube defect. If you have diabetes or take anti-epilepsy medicine, you are also advised to take a higher dose of folic acid.
Eating foods that contain folic acid is also advised. These include leafy green vegetables, some fortified foods such as cereal, beans, legumes, orange juice and bananas.
2. Give Alcohol A Miss
The Chief Medical Officers’ advice is to avoid alcohol if you’re trying to get pregnant, as well as throughout pregnancy itself. In fact, Drinkaware reveal that one study showed between one and five drinks a week can reduce a woman’s chances of conceiving. If you’re missing that glass of wine, there are plenty of 0% alcohol options available, so give them a go to see which takes your fancy.
3. Keep Up The Calcium
Whilst it might not actually increase fertility, calcium is essential for when you do become pregnant to help bones and teeth. If you’re deficient, calcium from your own bones may be used to help your growing baby. Include milk, cheese and yogurt in your day-to-day diet to avoid any calcium deficiencies.
If you’re vegan, there are still plenty of options. Soya drinks or other fortified plant milks, green leafy vegetables and fortified breads are good.
4. Boost It With Vitamin B6…
This water-soluble vitamin is found abundantly in a wealth of foods, so it’s an easy vitamin to pack into your diet. Why so important? B6 helps maintain the normal functioning of the nervous system as well as helping the body to process and store the energy from protein and carbohydrates in the food we eat. In fact, a lack of B6 can leave us lacking energy.
Keep Vitamin B6 levels high up with foods such as turkey, pork, bread, eggs and soya beans.
5. …And Don’t Forget Vitamin B12
It’s important to keep your B12 levels topped up with meat, salmon, cod, eggs cheese and fortified cereals and plant milks.
Vitabiotics Pregnacare Conception contains both vitamins B6 and B12.
6. Time For An Oyster?
They aren't to everyone’s tastes, but oysters are renowned for their libido boosting effects. They also contain zinc, which can be found in Vitabiotics Pregnacare Conception as it contributes to normal fertility and reproduction.
What’s more, according to the NHS, zinc helps with making new cells and enzymes and processing the protein, carbs and fats in the foods we eat.
Not keen on oysters? Other zinc filled foods include meat, legumes such as lentils, seeds, nuts, eggs and dairy foods.
7. Iron Up!
You’ll need plenty of iron in preparation for pregnancy, to ensure enough oxygen gets to you and your unborn. Good sources include lean beef and poultry, fortified breads and cereals, eggs, dried fruits and dark green, leafy veg.
8. Vitamin D Through A Supplement
It can often be tricky getting our daily dose of the ‘sunny vitamin’; Vitamin D is mostly obtained through sunlight and this year we all spent more time indoors thanks to the lockdown.
Therefore the UK government advised everyone to take a Vitamin D supplement throughout the entire year, as oppose to the usual advice of taking it October to March. There are also Vitamin D rich foods which can be enjoyed including oily fish (such as sardines and mackerel), liver and even fortified mushrooms.
The Vitabiotics Pregnacare Conception supplements provide expert nutritional support when you’re trying for a baby, and include the recommended 400µg folic acid, Vitamin D, plus Zinc.