Why do I need to take vitamins or fertility supplements?
There is a lot of discussion about whether taking fertility supplements and vitamins can help increase fertility. Everyone’s body is different and will react differently, some people swear by them whereas others don’t see conclusive results. However, what we do know is that vitamins play an essential role in all our bodily functions, including our reproductive system. Vitamins are used in
• Menstruation and ovulation in women • Thyroid function • Energy production • Immune function • Egg quality and maturing
If we are deficient in certain vitamins it can help to take supplements and in some cases can help reduce symptoms of infertility such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Taking fertility tablets isn’t something only women should consider, certain supplements have shown to increase sperm quality and motility also.
Please note that we should always aim to get as many vitamins, minerals and nutrients through a healthy diet and taking supplements should never be in place of a balanced diet. Read our advice on the Fertility Diet here.
Always consult a doctor
Our reproductive systems are complex and everyone’s body has different needs, that’s why it’s so important to consult a doctor before taking any supplements. Especially because taking the right amount of vitamins/minerals is critical as we need to create the correct environment for a healthy pregnancy. Some vitamins can have an undesired effect, if too much is taken or they interact with other medications being taken, so it is always important to discuss your personal history with your doctor. At The Evewell our fertility experts can help you make the right decision. If you are considering taking fertility supplements or need any other fertility advice please get in touch with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or giving us a call on 020 3974 0950.
What supplements should I take to increase fertility?
We have broken down our supplement recommendations by who they are most suitable for. Read on to find out what supplements increase fertility in men and women.
Fertility supplements for both women and men
1. Acetyl L-carnitine
Advantages for women: acetyl L-carnitine contains antioxidants that help promote a healthy female reproductive system
Advantages for men: helps sperm motility (the way it moves)
Acetyl L-carnitine (ALC) is a form of the amino acid L-carnitine (LC), which helps turn fat into energy and occurs in the body naturally. It is thought to help slow down the ageing process of the reproductive system.
Acetyl L-carnitine has stronger antioxidant properties, which are particularly more helpful for female fertility than LC. However, taking both (ALC) and (LC) together can help with PCOS, endometriosis and the absence of a period (amenorrhea).
Dose: Ranges between 1-3g per day for both males and females
2. B vitamins (other than folic acid)
Advantages for women: B vitamins can help promote improved egg health and prevent ovulatory infertility
Advantages for men: they can improve the quality of sperm
Folic acid is a B vitamin, which is usually used to help with pregnancy and fertility for women. However, there are other kinds of B vitamins which have many helpful properties as they are important for the formation and functioning of red blood cells. Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12, are all associated with a lower risk of an ovulation disorder, ovulatory infertility. Vitamin B12 in particular has been linked to increasing fertility in women undergoing IVF or other fertility treatments, whereas low levels of B12 have been linked to female infertility.
Dose: A B-complex multivitamin can usually provide a lot of your recommended B vitamins.
Advantages for both men and women: increasing your calcium intake can prevent a deficiency.
Advantages for men: calcium can help create sperm.
It is important to ensure we don’t encounter any deficiencies whilst trying to conceive as we want to ensure the body is working at its optimum. Calcium is also important in the development of a baby’s bones, blood vessels and heart. However, more specifically a calcium deficiency in men could cause infertility issues as it helps the production of sperm.
Dose: It’s always better to get calcium from a healthy diet such as eating full-fat yoghurt, cheese and dark leafy greens (e.g. spinach). However, if you are deficient it would be recommended to take 1000mg per day.
4. Coenzyme Q10
Advantages for women: coenzyme Q10 can help improve the ovarian response to IVF.
Advantages for men: it can improve sperm motility.
Coenzyme Q10 is an enzyme which is created in the body naturally and helps generate energy in our cells, however unfortunately as we get older its production can decrease. Increasing it again using a supplement may help fertility, especially when going through IVF.
Dose: Dosage varies depending on your specific needs however, anything between 300-1000mg a day for women and 200mg a day for men may be recommended.
5. Vitamin D
Advantages for women: Vitamin D can help with ovarian stimulation.
Advantages for men: it can help with improving semen quality
We can usually form vitamin D from receiving sun on our skin, however, a lot of us don’t get the amount we need. Vitamin D plays a vital role in the reproductive systems of both men and women and low levels can be associated with infertility and PCOS in women.
Dose: 1000 IU or less for women and between 2000-4000 IU for men could be recommended.
6. Vitamin E
Advantages for women: Vitamin E can generally boost female reproductive health and help with good endometrial development.
Advantages for men: it can improve sperm motility.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant and can increase fertility for both men and women. Low levels of Vitamin E have been linked to infertility in both sexes.
Dose: 15mg per day.
Advantages for women: omega-3s can be particularly helpful to women over 35.
Advantages for men: it can improve sperm quality overall.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to our body and are linked to improved embryo implantation, decreased premature labour, and improved sperm motility, morphology and quantity.
Dose: It’s better to get try and get these from a healthy diet, eating things such as fatty fish and nuts. However, if you do require a supplement, we recommend 500-100mg daily.
Advantages for women: Selenium can be linked to a reduced risk of miscarriage.
Advantages for men: it can also improve sperm quality overall.
Selenium is a powerful mineral which plays an essential role in the functioning of the body and is particularly important in the reproductive system. It can also help promote healthy follicles in the ovaries.
Selenium deficiency has been linked to miscarriages and low semen quality and motility.
Dose: 50mcg per day.
Advantages for women: Zinc can help with fertilisation and egg development.
Advantages for men: it can help improve sperm quality.
Zinc supports fertility by regulating hormone functions, cell division and ovulation. Despite being essential, our bodies do not store zinc, so it can be required to take zinc supplements. Zinc deficiencies are linked to lower sperm quality and taking more time to conceive.
Dose: 8mg is recommended for women and 11mg for men.
Probiotics are good for everyone and help maintain a healthy gut, which improves the health of our whole body, the reproductive system included.
Multivitamins can be a good way to ensure you are getting a lot of the vitamins you need to help increase fertility, all in one go.
Prenatal multivitamins for women should include roughly 400mcg folate, 300mg choline, 150 iodine, 18g iron and 600 IU Vitamin D. Whilst for men you should look out for multivitamins with plenty of antioxidants and Vitamin C, E and Zinc.
Fertility supplements for women
1. Folic acid/folate
Advantages: helps pregnancy and the outcome of fertility treatments
As mentioned above folic acid is a B Vitamin, it is the synthetic version of folate which is naturally formed in the body.
It is relatively common to have a mutation in the gene of the enzyme that activates folic acid by converting it to folate. Because of this, it is preferable if you take (methyl)folate rather than folic acid, as this is the active form of the vitamin.
Dose: Between 400-800mcg per day should be taken at least a month before trying to conceive.
Advantages: helps prevent anaemia.
An iron deficiency can cause ovulatory deficiency and poor egg health.
Dose: Roughly 27mg of iron per day.
Advantages: it can help with cycle regulation, mood stability and PCOS.
Inositol is a carbohydrate similar to a vitamin and can help with a range of fertility issues.
Dose: Depends on your specific needs, please consult a doctor if you are considering taking inositol.
Advantages: can help if your protein intake is low and so may be helpful for vegetarians/vegans.
L-Arginine is an amino acid which occurs naturally in the body and can help improve the thickness of the lining of the uterus.