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Supplements and Your Reproductive Health & Fertility

You know it. You’ve scoured the vitamin aisle at CVS® and Whole Foods®. You pick-up a bottle, turn it over to look at the facts, then quickly you realize you have know idea what you need, and you put it back on the shelf. Or, you just choose a bottle because it “looks good.”

When it comes to supplements and your reproductive health/fertility support, there is not one magic pill. There is no secret herb that will maintain your fertility, or get you pregnant instantly. We wish! Believe us, we would be using it here at BINTO! Although there is no “magic pill,” there are lots of important vitamins and minerals you need to make sure you are staying healthy from the inside, out.

 

A healthy body is the foundation for optimal health, especially when it comes to your period, your fertility status (egg health & sperm health) and maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Here you will find the ones that you should be getting daily.

Folic Acid:

Folic acid, according to the Center’s for Disease Control, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and The March of Dimes, all recommend that every woman of childbearing age needs AT LEAST a minimum of 400 mcg of folic acid daily. Folic acid is found naturally in some foods and fortified in others. But, over 50% of women still do not reach the recommended daily amount.

Women who are actively trying to get pregnant and women who are pregnant need a minimum of 800 mcg (those with previous history should take more and talk with their health provider).

What is folic acid and why is it so critical for women in the childbearing years? Folic acid is a naturally occurring vitamin in foods and it is a water-soluble form of vitamin B. Naturally, you can find it in leafy greens, fruits, beans, yeast and mushrooms. Folic acid, as of 1998 is added to cereals, breads, flours and bakery items. This vitamin is so important because it helps prevent incidents of neural tube defects in the fetus, miscarriage and other birth defects like spina bifida.

Vitamin D:

In recent years, more and more research studies are looking into the connection of vitamin D and fertility. Vitamin D, or the sunshine vitamin, is only found in a few foods like fatty fish, and it is found in fortified dairy products. Most of us get our vitamin D intake from sunlight exposure.

Vitamin D helps our cardiovascular health, bone health & growth, cancer prevention, and so much more. In terms of Vitamin D and reproductive health, the vitamin acts as a receptor on ovaries and the uterus. This is important to note for reproduction. Vitamin D (Calcitriol) can actually affect genes in cells by turning them on and off. Vitamin D in the uterus affects the genes in cells that make estrogen. This is critical for the embryo implantation process in the uterus.

Several research studies at different fertility clinics in the U.S showed increased pregnancy rates and successful implantation rates in women with higher levels of Vitamin D. Women who are deficient had significantly lower pregnancy rates.

We still need more research on Vitamin D and it’s role in fertility. However, what we do have points to Vitamin D as a major player in successful pregnancy outcomes.

DHA/EPA:

DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid. It is also known as Docosahexaenoic acid. DHA is critical for fetal brain development and is now recommended in ALL prenatal vitamins by the Center’s for Disease Control. DHA is found in fish, nuts and seeds and it can be found in algae.

Now, DHA is not to be confused with DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone). DHEA is a HORMONE that is found in the human body. It is said the DHEA can help in fertility for women Diminished Ovarian Reserve or Premature Ovarian Failure. A healthcare provider should recommend the use of DHEA for women, unlike DHA, which everywoman should take. DHEA should also NOT be used while pregnant.

NAC:

NAC, N-acetyl-cysteine, is an anti-inflammatory anti-oxidant. NAC is a wonderful supplement for women diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, PCOS, and for women who are trying to get pregnant via intercourse or IUI.

 NAC acts to lower insulin, decrease circulating male hormones in women with PCOS, improve and regulate menstrual cycles (helping women ovulate) and thin the cervical mucus to help sperm pass through to fertilize the egg.

The antioxidant works to promote Glutathione in the body. This is also an antioxidant found in the body that helps fight against free-radical damage. Free-radials affect fertility in both women and men.  

 It is highly recommended by the reproductive health community that women diagnosed with PCOS take NAC daily and women trying to conceive naturally or with IUI take this before and during ovulation.

CoQ10:

CoQ10, coenzyme 10, is a supplement that is used to help boost fertility in women and men. CoQ1o is part of the body’s electron transport and is found in every human cell. CoQ10 works like an antioxidant in our bodies (similar to NAC) by lowering impact of free-radicals in our reproductive system. Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms that can create a chain reaction in the body.

CoQ10 makes our reproductive system more efficient. It works in our bodies to promote energy. Since the reproductive process takes energy, as we age, our natural CoQ10 levels start to diminish. Taking CoQ10 in supplement form can help our eggs and sperm stay young, and increase your cellular energy levels.

Although we do have research on Coq10 in mice, we need more studies showing the benefits of CoQ10 in humans.

Probiotics:

We love probiotics over here at BINTO, and you should too. Probiotics help restore a healthy gut bacteria and the gut is the doorway to our overall health.

Here is an excerpt from our eBook

This piece was written by the wonderful Stephanie Morish, on probiotics and women’s health:

Taking a probiotic supplement daily is a great place for a woman to start improving her gut health. If you are currently, or have a history of, taking the birth control pill, this is especially important! The Pill acts like an antibiotic in the gut, decreasing the strength of your immune system and destroying the balance of good bacteria, leaving you vulnerable to dysbiosis not only in the gut but also the vagina. If you’ve had Group B Strep in the past, or have a history of yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis (BV), or chronic urinary tract infections, this is especially important for you too!

I recommend all women who are trying to conceive or already pregnant to consider a probiotic before, during and after pregnancy (while breastfeeding). Taking a probiotic as a mama-to- be directly affects the gut microbes of the fetus and will lay down the foundation for your child to have a healthy and strong gut. People used to think that infant guts were completely sterile, however newer research has shown that there is bacteria in amniotic fluid, umbilical cord blood and the placenta. Bacterial colonization of a fetus’ gut begins in the womb and this early inoculation of good microbes is important to the long-term health of babies. In particular, research demonstrates that mothers receiving a probiotic in the 3rd trimester have babies with lower rates of atopic conditions (specifically eczema and allergies).

These are the most important supplements and vitamins you can take for your fertility and reproductive health. And, these are the ones that are proven most effective. When considering the addition of a fertility supplement to your daily routine, remember to keep these ones top-of-mind.

 
Resources:
Bentov YCasper RF. “The aging oocyte–can mitochondrial function be improved? FertilSteril”. 2013 Jan;99(1):18-22.
 
Center’s for Disease Control
 
The March of Dimes
 
American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology
 
American Society for Reproductive Medicine 
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