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Got Folate? Why You Need Vitamins When You’re Trying To Conceive

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Full list of TTC Acronyms. This post may contain affiliate links.  For more info please read the disclosure page. Jackie is NOT a medical professional, information provided on P is for Pregnant is strictly for information purposes only. Please consult with your physician before making any changes to your healthcare routine. Find out more here.

FACT: Vitamins and Supplements Boost Your Fertility & Help you Get Pregnant When You’re Trying to Conceive

If you’re actively trying to get pregnant you and your partner absolutely NEED vitamins, period.

Good nutrition plays an important role in how our bodies function and in turn are essential when you’re trying to conceive.

Despite our best efforts to eat healthy on the daily, let’s face it, with such busy lifestyles it’s just easier some days to run through a drive-thru or order take out.

Sadly, around 80% of Americans do not get in the recommended amount of fruits and veggies in their daily diet1https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6426a1.htm which can lead to vitamin deficiency, fatigue and a general unwell feeling.

Don’t worry, I am not going to sit here and act all high and mighty like I have the best eating habits… because I don’t.

I KNOW I am included in that 80%.

Some days a bag of Cheetos and a Dr. Pepper is all I get in for breakfast and lunch!

I took a prenatal vitamin religiously when we were trying to conceive all of our children. I still take vitamins every day, I could not function without my B-Complex!

If you’re in that 80% with me luckily for us, one of the easiest things we can do to prep our bodies for pregnancy is to invest in high-quality whole food prenatal vitamin. Let’s take a quick look into some fertility supplements that help you get pregnant!

Why You Need Vitamins And How They Help Increase Fertility

An egg getting ready to get fertilized by sperm showing how you get pregnant

To sustain a healthy, viable pregnancy you want to make sure you are getting enough nutrients for you AND your new baby.

For example, low folate (or folic acid) has been shown to increase your odds of miscarrying2George L, Mills JL, Johansson ALV, et al. Plasma Folate Levels and Risk of Spontaneous Abortion. JAMA. 2002;288(15):1867–1873. doi:10.1001/jama.288.15.1867.

A deficiency in vitamin D can effect both men and women when you’re trying to conceive. Low vitamin D levels have show to reduce sperm progression and motility in men3Blomberg Jensen M, Gerner Lawaetz J, Andersson AM, Petersen JH, Nordkap L, Bang AK, Ekbom P, Joensen UN, Prætorius L, Lundstrøm P, Boujida VH, Lanske B, Juul A, Jørgensen N. Vitamin D deficiency and low ionized calcium are linked with semen quality and sex steroid levels in infertile men. Hum Reprod. 2016 Aug;31(8):1875-85. doi: 10.1093/humrep/dew152. Epub 2016 Jun 19. PMID: 27496946. and in women, it can lower the success rate of implantation. 4Garbedian K, Boggild M, Moody J, Liu KE. Effect of vitamin D status on clinical pregnancy rates following in vitro fertilization. CMAJ Open. 2013;1(2):E77-E82. Published 2013 Jun 28. doi:10.9778/cmajo.20120032

Beings that most of us do not get an adequate amount of nutrients in our daily diets odds are you are most likely deficient in one, if not more vitamins and minerals.

When you’re trying to get pregnant having any type of deficiency can be an issue.

What’s “great” about this little problem is that you can just swallow a pill and fix it. (Why can’t everything else be that easy *cough* weight loss, anxiety, depression…la sigh!)

According to March of Dimes, folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin D, DHA, and iodine are the six most important nutrients a Mother needs to sustain a healthy pregnancy.5https://www.marchofdimes.org/pregnancy/vitamins-and-other-nutrients-during-pregnancy.aspx

While those may be the most important vitamins during pregnancy, there are a couple of extra supplements that I am going to be adding to the list that are NOT in prenatal vitamins and aid in the conception process itself.

Fertility Vitamins & Minerals for Women & Men

vitamin capsule pill to take to boost fertility

Don’t forget to consult your physician before starting any extra supplements – typically a full-spectrum prenatal multivitamin is going to be sufficient for most women.

The Fertility Benefits of Folate/Folic Acid for Women

Folate is actually a few b-vitamins rolled all into one, commonly known as B9.

Folic Acid is the most common term you see/hear for this vitamin as it’s the synthetic form and most commonly used in supplements.

-I would say this is the KING of vitamins when it comes to sustaining a healthy pregnancy. If you do not have enough folate stored up in your -body you have a higher risk of miscarriage – it also takes 4 to 6 weeks to reach optimum levels so the sooner you start taking it the better!———————–

If you have a certain gene mutation called MTHFR C677T your body may not be able to process the synthetic version of Folate, Folic Acid. 6https://genesight.com/articles/is-there-a-difference-between-l-methylfolate-and-folic-acid-supplementation-for-patients-with-the-mthfr-c677t-mutation/

According to Healthline, about 30-40% of the American population may have the MTHFR gene mutation.

If you’ve been experiencing repeated miscarriages or other problems getting pregnant it is definitely worth looking into with your physician to see if you have the gene.

In the meantime, you should consider starting on a natural Folate supplement like this one

The Fertility Benefits of Iron for Women

Iron is an important vitamin when you’re trying to conceive because your body needs an adequate amount of iron to produce hemoglobin. During pregnancy, your blood volume increases up to 50% and you need iron to produce that extra blood to support your growing baby.7Hytten F. Blood volume changes in normal pregnancy. Clin Haematol. 1985 Oct;14(3):601-12. PMID: 4075604.

Low iron has also been linked to infertility causing anovulation ( a fancy term meaning the inability to ovulate), poor egg health as well as miscarriage.8Chavarro JE, Rich-Edwards JW, Rosner BA, Willett WC. Iron intake and risk of ovulatory infertility. Obstet Gynecol. 2006 Nov;108(5):1145-52. doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000238333.37423.ab. PMID: 17077236.

In pregnancy, it can also cause preterm labor and low birth weight.

Make sure you consult your Doctor before taking an iron supplement – some people have issues with absorption which can cause toxic levels to build up in the body.

If you and your Doctor decide you need an iron supplement to help you get pregnant I recommend going with a whole foods option like Vitamin Code Raw Iron.

It is made with FOOD – not ground up nails. It will no constipate you, it also has Vitamin C, Folate, and B12 to help with absorption. I took this for all of my pregnancies and it kept my iron where it needed to be.

The Fertility Benefits of Calcium for Women

Calcium doesn’t boost fertility in women necessarily, but it is important to make sure you’re not deficient in calcium prior to conceiving.

Calcium is one of the main “building blocks” developmentally for a fetus as it helps form your baby’s heart, muscles, teeth, and bones.

If you are deficient in calcium your baby will take it from your bones, which in turn can cause health issues such as osteoporosis down the line for you.  9Kumar A, Kaur S. Calcium: A Nutrient in Pregnancy. J Obstet Gynaecol India. 2017;67(5):313-318. doi:10.1007/s13224-017-1007-2

The Fertility Benefits of Calcium for Men

Calcium also plays an important role in semen quality for men.10Beigi Harchegani A, Irandoost A, Mirnamniha M, Rahmani H, Tahmasbpour E, Shahriary A. Possible Mechanisms for The Effects of Calcium Deficiency on Male Infertility. Int J Fertil Steril. 2019;12(4):267-272. doi:10.22074/ijfs.2019.5420 Calcium is involved in the production of sperm and a defieceny can be linked to infertility in men.

Eating a vegan or vegetarian diet can be linked to lower calcium so make sure your man is stocking up on vitamins if he follows either lifestyle choice.

The recommended daily value is 1000mg a day, most prenatals are going to meet this requirement without having to add an extra supplement. If your doctor suggests you take an additional supplement Vitamin Code Raw Calcium is a good whole food option.

The Fertility Benefits of Vitamin D for Women

Vitamin D does more than people think, it is a key factor in our immune system and there has even been talk among experts that it is more effective at boosting the immune system than vitamin C.

For women who are trying to conceive it can help support the implantation process and plays a vital role in the development of the fetus.

A word of warning, it is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means you won’t just pee it out if you get too much.

Your body stores it in fat and you can reach toxic levels so it is very important not to go over the daily recommended limit. Talk with your doctor before adding any additional vitamin D to your daily routine, especially if you’re taking a multivitamin.

The Fertility Benefits of Vitamin D for Men

A deficiency in Vitamin D for men has been linked to infertility and low semen quality.11Alzoubi A, Mahdi H, Al Bashir S, et al. NORMALIZATION OF SERUM VITAMIN D IMPROVES SEMEN MOTILITY PARAMETERS IN PATIENTS WITH IDIOPATHIC MALE INFERTILITY. Acta Endocrinol (Buchar). 2017;13(2):180-187. doi:10.4183/aeb.2017.180 Again, if your partner is a vegan or vegetarian it might be something to look into and it may help to add a Vitamin D supplement to his diet.

If it turns out you or you partner are deficient in vitamin D, like a good chunk of Americans, and you need to add a little boost to your vitamins then I suggest Vitamin Code Raw D3.

The Fertility Benefits of DHA aka Omega 3 Fatty Acid for Women

Omega 3 fatty acid is an essential vitamin that everyone should have in their TTC Arsenal. It is especially important when you’re trying to get pregnant, as well as throughout your pregnancy and life really.

It helps with brain function, heart health, and a number of other things including anxiety and depression.

For women who are over the age of 35, it has shown to boost fertility, improve egg quality, and even prolong reproductive years.12Nehra D, Le HD, Fallon EM, et al. Prolonging the female reproductive lifespan and improving egg quality with dietary omega-3 fatty acids. Aging Cell. 2012;11(6):1046-1054. doi:10.1111/acel.12006

It helps with Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) levels13Al-Safi ZA, Liu H, Carlson NE, et al. Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation Lowers Serum FSH in Normal Weight But Not Obese Women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2016;101(1):324-333. doi:10.1210/jc.2015-2913 and is crucial to brain development for your baby.

It even helps with increasing fertile cervical mucus!

It is not something your body produces on its own so your only option is to eat foods high in omega 3 every day or take a supplement.

Really, I could go on and on and write a whole post just on Omega 3s and fertility, and one day I will, but for today let me just say if you’re not taking it START NOW!

I take Swanson High Concentrate Omega-3, every day after lunch and don’t have any problems with fishy after taste or upset stomach.

Don’t do fish? No Problem! You can get Omega 3 Fatty Acid in Vegan form, I recommend Freshfield Vegan Omega 3 DHA Supplement.

The Fertility Benefits of Omega 3s for Men

Omega 3s also play an important role in male fertility. Adding an Omega 3 vitamin to your man’s daily routine can help with sperm motility and the overall quality giving him an extra boost!14Safarinejad MR, Safarinejad S. The roles of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in idiopathic male infertility. Asian J Androl. 2012;14(4):514-515. doi:10.1038/aja.2012.46

The Fertility Benefits of Iodine For Women

Iodine affects your thyroid hormones, a deficiency in Iodine has been linked to hypothyroidism which can cause infertility.15Kuehn B. Iodine Deficiency May Impair Fertility. JAMA. 2018;319(8):760. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.1291

It also helps with fetal development playing a part in the brain and nervous system development.

IMPORTANT: If you’re a vegan or vegetarian you are in a “high-risk” category for being Iodine deficient. According to one study, 25% of vegetarians and 80% of vegans suffer from an iodine deficiency.16Krajcovicová-Kudlácková M, Bucková K, Klimes I, Seboková E. Iodine deficiency in vegetarians and vegans. Ann Nutr Metab. 2003;47(5):183-5. doi: 10.1159/000070483. PMID: 12748410.

Your body does not produce Iodine naturally so you want to make sure you’re prenatal has Iodine in it!

If you and your Doctor decide you need to add an Idoine supplement due to a deficiency I recommend Vegan Iodine Drops by MaryRuth’s

The Fertility Benefits of Coenzyme Q10 for Women

Coenzyme Q10 or Coq10 is a natural antioxidant produced by the body. It has been shown to help with ovarian response and embryo quality which is beneficial especially if you’re over 35 and trying to get pregnant.17Xu Y, Nisenblat V, Lu C, et al. Pretreatment with coenzyme Q10 improves ovarian response and embryo quality in low-prognosis young women with decreased ovarian reserve: a randomized controlled trial. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2018;16(1):29. Published 2018 Mar 27. doi:10.1186/s12958-018-0343-0

Note that the supplement form of Coq10 does interact with some medications including blood pressure medication, blood thinners like warfarin, and a few others.

Be sure to check with your healthcare provider before starting Coq10 to make sure it is compatible if you’re taking medication.

The Fertility Benefits of Coq10 for Men

Coq10 also helps your man in the semen department. It has been shown to increase motility and may also improve overall sperm count. 18Alahmar AT, Calogero AE, Sengupta P, Dutta S. Coenzyme Q10 Improves Sperm Parameters, Oxidative Stress Markers and Sperm DNA Fragmentation in Infertile Patients with Idiopathic Oligoasthenozoospermia. World J Mens Health. 2020 Jan 20. doi: 10.5534/wjmh.190145. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32009311.

Again I caution about just taking this supplement without consulting your physician, and making sure it is not going to interact with any prescribed medication.

Once you and your spouse get the all-clear to start taking it I recommend Swanson CoQ10.

The Benefits of Selenium for Women

Selenium is a mineral that most women do not hear about, even I wasn’t aware of it until I started trying to conceive.

It plays a big role in reproductive health and has even been known to help reduce symptoms of PMS.

Having a deficiency in Selenium can contribute to miscarriage and other reproductive issues resulting in infertility.

Selenium plays a major role in egg formation and progesterone levels.

Taking a Selenium supplement may boost fertility and help with overall reproductive health.19https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6683068/

The Benefits of Selenium for Men

Selenium in combination with Vitamin E has shown promise in male fertility by helping to increase overall sperm count and motility. 20Alahmar AT, Calogero AE, Sengupta P, Dutta S. Coenzyme Q10 Improves Sperm Parameters, Oxidative Stress Markers and Sperm DNA Fragmentation in Infertile Patients with Idiopathic Oligoasthenozoospermia. World J Mens Health. 2020 Jan 20. doi: 10.5534/wjmh.190145. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32009311.

Men are also prone to a deficiency in selenium so it’s definitely something to look into.

If you guys decided to try it out I recommend this liquid combo specifically formulated with Selenium and Vitamin E.

Picking a Parental Vitamin when you’re Trying to Conceive

If the idea of taking multiple different vitamins and supplements is a turn-off, and you only want to take a multivitamin then I highly recommend you take a whole food prenatal vitamin.

It is the best way to get everything you need for you and baby.

Unfortunately, most prenatal vitamins are NOT made from nutrient-rich foods but instead are composed of isolated compounds, aka copycat/synthetic vitamins and minerals made to mimic the real thing.

I don’t know about you but I’d rather get my vitamins and minerals from a food source if possible.

Which Vitamins are best when trying to conceive?

whole food vitamin showing vegetables and fruits flying into a pill capsule to help you get pregnant.

While I don’t think there is any one vitamin brand that is the best (I do have my personal favorites) I do think that there is a “best” vitamin type when it comes to trying to conceive and that is any brand that is non-synthetic.

Why You Should Take A Whole Foods Prenatal Vitamin VS A Synthetic Prenatal Vitamin

Get ready for a bunch of technical jargon –

What Are Synthetic Vitamins?

Most prenatal vitamins (vitamins in general, really) are going to be compounded from synthetic vitamins and minerals. These are going to be your common drug store vitamins and or your prescribed prenatal if you get one from your doctor.

If you check the back of your bottle and don’t know what a word means ie. Cyanocobalamin, then it’s likely you’ve got a batch of synthetic vitamins. (Side note: Some companies do not even include the actual name of the synthetic form of the vitamin and or mineral they are using. Beware of simple ingredient lists that just state the vitamins. ie. Calcium, Vitamin A and so on with no other derivative.)

Although synthetic prenatals do offer a complete broad spectrum of nutrition they are created in a laboratory and made from synthetic chemical isolates.

Each compound is created to try and mimic the vitamin and or mineral of choice morphing it into the synthetic version of the natural element.

While this process and these synthetic versions are considered safe, it is not ideal, and if you can avoid the “fake” stuff by all means do.

Synthetic vitamins come with drawbacks. While cheaper than food-based vitamins they are harder to absorb and are considered inferior to natural or whole foods vitamin blends21https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11090291.

Synthetic vitamins can also cause issues with upset stomach, vomiting, and nausea.

Take iron for example, when in its synthetic form, “Ferrous Fumarate” it can cause severe constipation and upset stomach… something no pregnant or trying to conceive woman wants to deal with.

Many newly pregnant women find synthetic vitamins difficult to handle and often blame the vitamin form itself (the actual pill) rather than looking at the ingredients.

This, in turn, leads to gummy vitamins, which are just as bad and offer even less nutrition than your normal synthetic vitamin. Which is a whole different post.

Eating a well rounded healthy diet filled with fats, fruits, veggies, and protein is best and will provide you with the best nutrient outcome.

When that is not possible and you bring in vitamins to supplement a deficiency and those vitamins are made with isolated compounds, via synthetic vitamin blends, your body may have adverse reactions.

Phew – that was a mouth full.

In layman’s terms, synthetic vitamins get a 👎 from me.

What kind of Prenatal Vitamins to take when Trying to Get Pregnant

women taking a vitamin holding a glass of water with the hopes of getting pregnant

Ideally, you want to take a whole food prenatal while trying to conceive.

Whole foods prenatal vitamins are just what they sound like, vitamins and minerals derived directly from food, mostly fruits, and veggies.

I am not going to bore you with a ton of info here as these vitamins are pretty straightforward.

They are made with your everyday consumable produce like kale, beets, garlic, blackberries, and contain all the necessary daily nutrients you need to get ready for a healthy 9 months of pregnancy. (Side Note: If you have any food allergies make SURE to read each and every ingredient to avoid a reaction)

They are highly absorbable, gentle on the stomach, and come from nature.

Some even contain probiotics, and natural remedies such as ginger to help combat morning sickness.

When you purchase a whole foods prenatal you know exactly what you’re putting into your body.

Take a look at the ingredient list below as an example. It is from the back of  Garden Of Life’s Organic Whole Foods Prenatal and is one of my favorites! 

It’s easy to see exactly what you’re putting in your body and your babies for that matter.

I’ll take Broccoli, spinach, and strawberries any day compared to synthetic ingredients like ferrous fumarate (iron), retinyl palmitate (vitamin A), or ascorbic acid (vitamin C).

The only downside to the whole foods based prenatal is that they can get pricey and tend to be hard to find in stores.

Unfortunately, synthetic vitamins are cheaper and easier to find in stores which in turn has a larger convenience factor.

The good news is you can easily find and buy your whole foods prenatal vitamins online. If you’re Amazon Prime obsessed like me they are waiting at your door in just two days, and you didn’t have to waste any gas to get them!

To Go Organic Prenatal Or Not To Go Organic Prenatal? That is the question.

Obviously, everyone would like to avoid chemicals, pesticides, and waxes if possible, but that is not always feasible on a financial level.

Let’s be honest organic is EXPENSIVE.

So, I am not going to get into a big debate here as it really is an individual preference and or circumstance decision.

I personally try to buy organic, as long as it’s within my budget. I am not going to stress if I can’t buy organic that month or if I buy a non-organic apple at the grocery store.

I do what I can when it is feasible.

I will include the organic and non-organic versions of each whole foods prenatal vitamin if that brand offers one or the other.

My Top Natural fertility supplements & Prenatals for Women

Every brand of prenatal vitamin comes with its own pros and cons and sometimes it takes trying out a few to figure out what YOU like best.

My absolute favorite is Garden Of Life’s Organic Whole Foods Prenatal

In general, I love their products and use their protein shake mix and raw iron which are all whole foods based.

I am always recommending their stuff to anyone who asks.

My second choice is Rainbow Light Prenatal One it is one of the more affordable whole foods prenatals. You can get a 150 count bottle (5 month supply) for under $45.

In no particular order here are some of the best, high-quality prenatal options for trying to conceive

Garden of Life mykind Organics Prenatal Vitamins


Rainbow Light Prenatal One Multivitamin Tablets, Superfoods & Probiotics

Mama Bird Prenatal Multi+

NATURELO Prenatal Multivitamin with DHA, Natural Iron, Folate, Plant Calcium – Vegan

New Chapter Perfect Prenatal Vitamins

 

My Top Natural Fertility Vitamins for Men

If you can’t get your man on board with taking a vitamin that has the word “fertility” written on it then don’t worry, a regular multivitamin will work just fine and contains many of the sperm building nutrients he needs.

Ready. Set. Go! Fertility Support Prenatal Supplement for Men

Conception Men Fertility Vitamins

FertilAid for Men: Male Fertility Supplement for Sperm Count, Motility, and Morphology

Garden of Life Multivitamin for Men

NATURELO Whole Food Multivitamin for Men

Vitamin Code Whole Food Multivitamin for Men

If you’ve made it this far and I haven’t put you to sleep kudos to you! Vitamins definitely don’t rank as one of the most exciting topics to read or write about.

But someones got to do it!

After reading all of the above, you can see vitamins and minerals play a hefty role in fertility in both men and women and are very important when trying to conceive.

Now, go talk to your doctor and see about setting up some testing to check your vitamin and mineral levels, it just might be the thing that has been preventing you from getting pregnant.

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