Nutritional consultant and fertility specialist Isabelle Obert answers the important question: what are the best supplements for fertility, why do we need them and how much should we take?
1. Folic Acid
It is well known that at least 400mcg of folic acid is recommended by the medical profession worldwide when trying to conceive and during pregnancy, as it can help prevent birth defects known as neural tube defects, including spina bifida. However, folic acid requires B12 in order to enter the cells which is just one illustration of the dependence that many nutrients have upon each other. Folic acid is available as a single supplement in pill form, but it is also included in most multivitamins – although quantities should be closely checked.
400mcg of folic acid is recommended by the medical profession worldwide when trying to conceive and during pregnancy.
Iodine is critical to human health. It plays important roles in thyroid function, which controls your metabolism, regulating everything from body temperature and brain function to heart rate and cholesterol levels. Iodine also plays a crucial role in female health and fertility and is crucial for the growth and development of the baby’s brain and cognitive function. Iodine can often be lacking in modern diets and there are several places in the world where iodine deficiency is widespread. I would recommend at least 150mcg per day. There are several iodine supplements available and it comes in pill form, or as a solution in drop form.
3. Omega 3
The ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 is important for optimising our health. A higher ratio of omega 6 can increase the level of inflammation in the body. This can increase the long-term risk for a wide range of chronic health conditions, it can also have a negative impact on fertility. Omega 3 is important for healthy hormone function, can help reduce inflammation and may increase uterine blood flow. During pregnancy DHA (stands for docosahexaenoic acid, a nutrient found in omega-3 fatty acids from oily fish) requirements are increased and it is thought that taking an omega 3 supplement may help with the baby’s brain development. The human brain consists of 60 per cent fat of which 20 per cent is DHA.
Omega 3 is important for healthy hormone function, can help reduce inflammation and may increase uterine blood flow.
There is no formal recommended daily allowance of Omega 3 currently in the UK, however, I would strongly recommend for pre-conception and during pregnancy a good strength and highly purified Omega 3 supplement with at least 400mg of DHA. Omega 3 supplements can be found in capsule and liquid form. Many omega 3 supplements advertise high levels of Omega 3, but when you look closely their DHA content is significantly lower. So read labels carefully, it is also important to ensure your product has been properly purified to remove contaminants. In general, there are no cheap options.
Read labels carefully, it is also important to ensure your product has been properly purified to remove contaminants.
There are many brands which offer individual supplements providing the RDA for each of these nutrients, however, I reiterate that I never recommend nutrients to be taken separately as so many are vital for reproductive health and many work synergistically. It is easier and more cost effective to take a good quality high potency prenatal multivitamin and mineral alongside a separate omega 3 supplement. Our aim at NurtureMe is to eliminate the confusion around which supplements to take and in what quantity. All of our care packages contain at least the recommended levels of nutrients with some in higher doses where appropriate.
Find out more about Isabelle’s work here
Isabelle Obert is a nutrition consultant who has worked at Zita West — one of London’s leading fertility clinics — since 2005, and has helped thousands of couples with her holistic approach to fertility. After her own struggle with fertility, she founded NutureMe with former client Abby Parkes in 2014. The service offers nutritional support for women and couples trying to get pregnant by providing personalized consultations and delivering supplements.
Visit the website at NutureMe.uk.