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I was recently approached by Dr Wayne Osborne over at Treated.com and was asked if I might like to put a question to him.When you are trying to conceive, there is a fair amount of confusion over what you should and shouldn’t take when it comes to vitamins, minerals and supplements. I decided to ask about what you should be taking when you are trying to conceive as I felt it might be of interest to my readers.
Which are the most important supplements for those trying to conceive?
Hi Victoria, and thank you for your question.
This is an interesting subject and one which I’m frequently asked about in general practice. I think this is largely due to the fact that there’s so much conflicting information out there, it can be hard to know who to believe.
The truth is, as you would expect, that there isn’t any one single ‘magic-mineral’ which enhances fertility and does everything required to get your body ready for pregnancy. But a combination of the following can both improve your chances of conceiving and help to make your pregnancy a healthy one:
Folic acid is a vital component for a healthy pregnancy. Having the recommended daily amount (400 micrograms) in your diet can help to reduce the likelihood of your baby developing severe spinal problems during the earlier stages of pregnancy. So you shouldn’t wait until you are pregnant to address your folic acid levels. Your baby needs the right amount from the outset, so make sure you’re getting enough while trying to conceive.
As well as aiding testosterone levels and fertility in men, Zinc plays an integral role in the ovulation process; aiding the development of eggs, and facilitating their passage through the fallopian tube to the uterus.
During pregnancy, a woman’s body will use around one and a half times the regular amount of Iron, requiring 27mg instead of 18mg. And again, it’s an essential nutrient, not only in getting oxygen around the body, but in generating healthy eggs when trying to conceive too. In fact, numerous studies have linked iron-deficiency with reduced female fertility; so it’s crucial to have it in sufficient supply when trying for a baby.
It’s no secret that your baby needs Calcium during development. Vital for strong bones, it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough (1000mg is the GDA for adults) while pregnant to both support your baby’s growth and maintain your own bone strength. But calcium has been found to aid the reproductive system too, and is beneficial for those women hoping to become pregnant.
If you want to combine the essentials in one easy to take tablet, you can usually find specially-formulated pregnancy and fertility multivitamin products at your pharmacy. These will usually contain most, if not all of the vitamins and minerals you need to enhance your chances of conceiving.
A note on Omega-3: It’s best to approach omega-3 and fish with caution during pregnancy and trying to conceive. While it does have some benefits, such as reducing stress and aiding strong bone and muscle function, supplements made from fish liver, such as cod liver oil, can harm your baby’s development and are strictly off-limits.
You can get sufficient levels of omega-3 during pregnancy from eating fish rather than taking supplements, but again, use caution. The NHS recommends eating no more than 12 ounces of fish a week during pregnancy, and some fish, particularly those with a high mercury content, should be absolutely avoided. If you’re trying to conceive or are pregnant, and are concerned about your omega-3 levels, I would advise speaking to your GP or family planning nurse.
I would also like to add that, in any case, a healthy and balanced diet is essential. Make sure you’re getting enough fruit and vegetables, and keeping your salt and saturated fat intake within the recommended daily amounts (no more than 6 and 20 grams per day respectively). And remember, taking vitamin supplements should never be considered a substitute for eating healthily.
Thanks again, Victoria. I hope that’s a help!
Dr Wayne Osborne
P.S. – If you or your readers have any other health-related questions you’d like to me to answer, please don’t hesitate to ask on my blog over at Treated.com !
Disclosure: This is a collaborative post with Treated.com