There are several specific nutrients that are involved in female fertility.
Not only is vitamin D important for maintaining the health of your bones and immune system, it may also be involved in fertility. In fact, a small study in Fertility and Sterility found that women with low levels of vitamin D were less likely to conceive compared to those with normal levels. Additionally, a new 2022 meta-analysis found that vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency are associated with miscarriage.
Because vitamin D is found naturally in few food sources and is usually obtained through sun exposure, supplementation may be recommended for those at risk for deficiency.
Folic acid is a B vitamin frequently found in prenatal supplements and fortified foods. Interestingly, folic acid has also been shown to increase the chances of conception, especially in women with irregular cycles.
Eli Reshef, M.D. a reproductive endocrinologist at the Integris Bennett Fertility Institute in Oklahoma City, recommends folic acid supplementation before and during pregnancy to prevent neural tube defects. Specifically, he recommends taking an over-the-counter prenatal supplement that contains at least 800 milligrams of folic acid to support fertility.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that women of reproductive age should get at least 400 micrograms of folate per day, which can come from a combination of foods or supplements. Leafy greens, legumes and whole grains are all excellent sources of folate.
Selenium is an essential trace mineral needed for the production of hormones and selenoproteins, a type of protein involved in reproductive health. Not only can a deficiency in selenium impair fertility, but it could also increase the risk of miscarriage and other pregnancy complications.
Most people can get enough of this important micronutrient by following a balanced diet that contains selenium-rich foods like meat, fish and eggs. It’s also commonly added to multivitamins and prenatal supplements.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Though most well-known for its positive effects on heart health and inflammation, omega-3 fatty acids may have an impact on fertility as well. In fact, studies show these healthy fats can help balance levels of reproductive hormones, regulate menstruation and improve egg quality and implantation.
Enjoying a few weekly servings of fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines or tuna, is a great way to bump up your intake of omega-3 fatty acids. If you don’t regularly eat fish, consider taking a supplement sourced from fish oil or algal oil instead.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a type of antioxidant that is produced naturally by the body and found in many foods, including organ meats and fish. Some studies have found that CoQ10 could improve ovarian response and increase rates of conception in women undergoing fertility treatments.
“As we age, the body’s production of CoQ10 slows down, making it increasingly challenging to protect eggs from oxidative damage and making it harder for women to conceive,” notes Rosmy Barrios, M.D., a regenerative medicine specialist at the IM Clinic in Belgrade, Serbia.
Consider asking your doctor if a CoQ10 supplement might be right for you.