Antioxidants: Vitamin C, D, E
Antioxidants are the besties of our eggs and sperm. Damage to these is caused by oxidative stress, which comes in the form of many things, including radiation from mobile phones, air pollution, and chemicals. But oxidative stress also occurs in normal reactions that take place every day in our bodies, like digesting our food. Having a solid supplemental regimen of antioxidants helps to counteract this, not to mention fighting off things like the common cold.
Vitamin D: This partially fat and water soluble vitamin is essential to so many functions, and only made in our bodies through sun exposure. One of the first things you can do to help yourself out in your TTC journey is to get your levels checked. Research shows sufficient levels of vitamin D3 support higher pregnancy rates.
Another potent member of the antioxidant family, vitamin E also has blood-thinning properties that can be helpful with building a healthy uterine lining.
Beyond just being our friend against the common cold, zinc is an essential element for male fertility, necessary for proper sperm growth, parameters, and fertilization ability.
If you can take one thing to improve the health of eggs and sperm, take this! While most people know of Co-enzymeQ 10 as an antioxidant, it has a particularly important role in female fertility simply because of how it acts in our bodies. Every cell in our body uses CoQ10 to make energy. Guess what the largest cell in the human body is? The human ovum. Eggs need lots of energy to divide and grow properly, so think of CoQ10 as their food. As we age, we tend not to produce CoQ10 as efficiently, so supplementation, particularly over age 35, is a great idea. Ubiquinol is the reduced form of CoQ10, and more bio-available. While pricier than CoQ10, if you have the means to supplement with it, it’s worth it.
Found in abundance in the skin of red grapes (no, this isn’t license to drink all the red wine), resveratrol is a unique antioxidant with a highly protective effect on the body. It can potentially be helpful for women with diminish ovarian reserve (DOR), and regulating insulin sensitivity and cycles in polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
Pyc-what? I know, it’s a $50 word. But it’s also a super antioxidant. This highly powerful supplement is made from the extract of French maritime pine bark and is thought to be particularly beneficial for women in their mid to late 30s and beyond. Good news for the boys too, Pycnogenol supplementation has been shown to improve sperm parameters.
Short for N-acetyl-cysteine, this amino acid is commonly recommended for fertility because it is a precursor to glutathione, the most powerful antioxidant that our body makes. While glutathione supplements exist, they are often quite expensive and thought to be poorly absorbed. Simply put, taking N-acetyl-cysteine helps our bodies make their own glutathione, which can potentially improve egg quality. Research firmly shows how it can help egg quality in women with PCOS undergoing IVF and improve sperm parameters.
Myo-inositol is the active form of inositol. While it is thought to be a B-vitamin, it’s not that exactly as we can make it in our bodies. Myo-inositol is an essential aid in fertility for women with PCOS , helping to improve insulin sensitivity, regulate the menstrual cycle, and improve egg quality.
Melatonin has been much studied and touted for its fertility benefits in the past decade, and for good reason. Melatonin is also a powerful anti-oxidant. Beyond just promoting a good night’s sleep, studies show that supplemental melatonin in the 90 days leading up to an IVF stimulation cycle help produce better quality eggs and better medication response.
People ask lots of questions about DHEA. Here, the author is going to take a big step back. Can it be helpful for older women and those with diminished ovarian reserve? Potentially. But it’s also a steroid hormone that can metabolize a lot of different ways. It has the potential to cause a lot of undesirable side effects, like acne and facial hair growth. It is the author’s opinion that if other supplements exist that are equally beneficial without the same side effects, then perhaps they pose a better alternative.
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