If you’re trying to get pregnant, you’ll want to do your absolute best to prepare your body for conception. That probably means exercising, limiting stress, getting plenty of sleep, eating a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and omega 3 fatty acids, and taking vitamins and supplements to make sure your health is in its optimal state.
So what supplements should you be taking, exactly?
In addition to prenatal vitamins, of course, there are several standard supplements I recommend to patients that can improve their chances of conceiving naturally, or prepare them for success with mini-stim In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).
By the way, in terms of prenatal vitamins, make sure yours contains methyl-folate instead of folic acid – a sizable portion of women do not metabolize folic acid, so getting the vitamin in the form of methyl-folate is vital.
OK, here are my “go-to” supplements:
A woman’s chance of pregnancy declines with age for two reasons: she has fewer eggs and she has fewer good quality eggs.
I tell my patients to take CoQ10 (Coenzyme Q10) because this antioxidant has been shown to improve egg quality by decreasing issues related to egg cell division following ovulation. We know that only normal, healthy eggs lead to healthy, ongoing pregnancies, so anything that can improve egg quality is a good thing.
I recommend 600mg daily and be sure you choose a brand that is reputable, such as Pure, Ortho Molecular, or Thorne.
This naturally occurring hormone is important for the functioning of the ovaries and other hormones in your body.
DHEA is found in a woman’s adrenal glands, as well as the ovaries, where it plays a critical role in androgen production and egg maturation.
As we age, our natural stores of androgens decreases which may be one of the causes of diminished ovarian reserve. A recent review of 9 different studies on DHEA supplementation and fertility concluded that supplementation with DHEA in its micronized form at 75mg daily significantly improved the number of eggs retrieved during IVF and increased the clinical pregnancy and live birth rates.
N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)
NAC is a precursor to the antioxidant glutathione and acts as a powerful antioxidant itself. Not only is it believed to reduce DNA damage, like all other antioxidants, it is also believed to detoxify the liver, which may play a significant role in a woman’s fertility.
And in one study, NAC was shown to improve pregnancy rates in women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) undergoing Intrauterine Insemination (IUI).
In addition, a recent study demonstrated significant improvement in sperm count, motility, and morphology (the shape of the sperm.) So, this is one I recommend for all my patients.
Probiotics & L-Glutamine
You may not consider gut and vaginal microbes while trying to get pregnant. However, bacteria, viruses, and fungi in a woman’s gastrointestinal tract and her vagina likely have scores of benefits for overall health – and yes, fertility – that scientists are only just uncovering.
For example, they can aid in many critical metabolic processes like proper digestion of food and absorption of essential vitamins and minerals. In addition, with all the processed and packaged foods we eat, the natural barrier established by the gut is broken down and begins to allow chemicals and toxins to leak into our bodies.
Taking a probiotic daily, along with L-glutamine, helps build up your gut and vaginal “microbiomes, ” and prevents overgrowth of the wrong kind of bacteria, all while helping to restore the natural gut barrier and prevent further damage.
Vitamin D & Vitamin K
Vitamin D, known as the "sunshine vitamin," is produced in the body by sunlight and is found in many foods. It is critical for bone health as it increases calcium levels in the body, but more research is suggesting that vitamin D deficiency may affect fertility and pregnancy outcomes.
Vitamin D is even critical in hormone production, including progesterone and estrogen. Even with enough time in the sun, most of the general population is deficient. The data is still being gathered, but several studies have shown that correcting vitamin D deficiency results in higher rates of pregnancy and live birth.
Once pregnant, it is important to keep your levels up. Deficiency of vitamin D during pregnancy is linked to gestational diabetes, preterm birth, preeclampsia, and increased rates of cesarean delivery.
Like Vitamin D, Vitamin K is fat-soluble and plays a central role in calcium metabolism. Vitamin D increases calcium levels and vitamin K helps the body use calcium by transporting it to vital organs.
By taking these two vitamins together, they naturally complement each other and provide the best support to your body. I recommend taking Vitamin D3 along with K2 if you have been told you are deficient or suspect that you may be.
Yes, you should take vitamins and supplements when trying to conceive
Taking supplements is a great way to give your fertility an extra push in the right direction, but be careful of what you’re buying. Just because something is available over the counter, does not make it risk-free. In addition, some supplements can interact with medications, so it is essential to talk to your doctor before taking them and be sure that you only purchase from a reputable source that can assure a quality product.