When deciding to start a family, it is vital that both parties are at peak health to ensure a healthy foetus and baby and avoid abnormalities, miscarriages and infant mortalities.
In order for men to produce healthy sperm, it is important to prepare for three months before conception as spermatogenesis takes three months. Abnormalities in sperm are responsible for many miscarriages.
Women need to be especially careful during the two weeks following their period as this is the time that the follicle will be released for ovulation and is most vulnerable to toxins and nutritional deficiencies.
Very often, we are so disappointed when our period arrives, signalling no pregnancy, that we think we can drown our sorrows or go and party because we are not pregnant. This can be very dangerous because the fastest growth and cell division takes place at 3 to 7 weeks (before we are aware that we might be pregnant) and deficiencies, binge drinking and smoking can have very detrimental effects
If you have just stopped the contraceptive pill, wait until you have taken a Folic Acid supplement for three months before you try and fall pregnant. The pill will deplete folic acid levels and this can lead to neural tube defects such as Spina Bifida.
Late ovulation decreases the chance of fertilization and a healthy embryo. To regulate your cycle, ensure you have a healthy diet and supplement with a B complex. Moderate exercise and relaxation are vital and Reflexology is an excellent therapy that works on all the endocrine glands in the body. The Pineal Gland is responsible for your circadian rhythms.
A healthy, whole food diet high in good quality protein, especially fish, with plenty greens as well as orange, yellow, red and purple fruit and vegetables will supply folic acid and anti-oxidants that prevent damage to the foetus.
NUTS, SEEDS, OLIVES, AVOCADO and FISH are excellent foods for hormonal health.
Supplementing a healthy diet will ensure that the body has all the necessary nutrients and minerals for healthy sperm, ova and ultimately a baby.
- FOLIC ACID
- B VITAMINS
- VIT C
- VIT E
- ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS
- FOLIC ACID
Start taking a folic acid supplement a couple of months before you intend falling pregnant as a deficiency will cause neural tube defects such as Spina Bifida and the contraceptive pill depletes folic acid. The fastest growth and cell division takes place at 3 – 7 weeks when the tissue is differentiating into organs.
Signs of a folic acid deficiency can be a sore, smoothe tongue and cracks in the corners of the mouth. Foods containing folic acid are green leafy vegetables, broccoli, whole grains and liver. Taking a supplement of 400 mcg a day is recommended.
Essential amino acids are highly important in men and women when it comes to healthy babies and these are obtained mainly from animal sources, the body cannot manufacture them. Low birth weight and infant mortality have been linked to poor protein intake. It is vital for fertility in men and woman as it will aid the number and quality of ova, sperm and aid the fertilization process.
It is recommended that a good protein intake is done for at least three months prior to conception as trying to increase your protein intake during the second half of pregnancy doesn’t make nearly as much impact is in the first half of pregnancy and before conception. Avoid any fasting or dieting at this time.
A deficiency in a single amino acid can cause atrophy of the testes and impact on other sexual tissue thus impairing chance of a healthy fertilization.
- B VITAMINS
B vitamins help balance the hormones and ovulation cycle, especially progesterone which is necessary to maintain a pregnancy. A deficiency in B vitamins can be the cause of congenital abnormalities. B’s help improve fertility in women.
B2 is particularly important for the development of a healthy follicle and this takes place before ovulation. Good food sources are liver, yeast, nuts, seeds and cheese. B2 will always be included in a B Complex and it is essential to supplement with a good B Complex.
- ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS
Supplementing with Omega 3 and 6 improves fertility and general health.
- VIT C AND E 1000 – 3000 mg /day and 400 – 800 iu / day respectively.
IMPORTANT NUTRIENTS FOR MEN:
To maintain healthy sperm and improve fertility, the following nutrients are important:
Zinc is the most important mineral when it comes to improving sperm count and motility and it is recommended that men supplement with this for a good few months before conception. 50 – 100 mg a day or higher if there are infertility issues. Higher doses should only be taken under supervision and for short periods as it will interfere with copper absorption.
White marks on fingernails is often a sign of a zinc deficiency. Frequent sexual activity will deplete zinc levels.
Arginine is the most important amino acid when it comes to supplementing, especially if there are infertility issues as this will increase the sperm count.
- VITAMIN C
Vitamin C is not only an excellent anti-oxidant which helps prevent free radical damage from toxins, it also prevents agglutination of the sperm. 1000 mg a day can increase the chance of fertilization.
CAUSES OF INFERTILITY:
NON OVULATION – take high quality multi-vitamin, Vit C 1000 – 3000 mg, Vit E = 400 – 800 iu, Flaxseed oil – 1 T. Vitex Agnus Castus (Chaste berry)
HIGH PROLACTIN LEVELS – stress can cause increased levels as well as low thyroid hormone levels.
LOW PROGESTERONE LEVELS
Reflexology can help reduce stress; balance the endocrine system ie pituitary, thyroid and ovaries; raise DHEA levels which are the opposite of cortisol and necessary for healthy eggs.
Encyclopaedia of Nutritional Supplements by Michael T. Murry ND
Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC
Tutorial on Improving Fertility and Preconceptional Nutritional Care by Dr Robert Buist PhD