Table of Contents
- Improving Egg & Sperm Quality
- Nutrients to Optimize Fertility in Women
- Nutrients to Optimize Fertility in Men
- It Takes Two
When a couple is thinking about having a baby, actively trying to conceive, or persisting in their fertility journey, they all tend to focus on one thing — the baby. But before the baby, before the pregnancy, even before the conception, there’s another thing worth focusing on. It’s the critical period known as the preconception window, a four to six-month timeframe during which you can actively take steps to improve your fertility, boost your chances of a successful conception and pregnancy, and even impact the health of your future children. So much of it comes down to the right nutrients at the right time – and that’s where prenatal vitamins for men and women come in.
Improving Egg & Sperm Quality
From a biological standpoint, nutrition and lifestyle changes during the preconception window are as critical as the conscientiousness we exhibit during a pregnancy itself. This is the time to prioritize your fertility by actively improving egg and sperm quality. And science is showing us how. In both women and men, key micronutrients have been linked to the very processes that drive conception.
Nutrients to Optimize Fertility in Women
While it’s true that a woman is born with all the eggs she’ll ever have, those eggs aren’t ready for fertilization without first undergoing a critical growth process that takes about three months – i.e. the preconception window. This egg maturation stage is optimized when a woman is eating a varied, nutritious diet, filling any gaps with a high-quality prenatal vitamin, and generally leading a healthy lifestyle. Many cases of infertility, miscarriage, and failed IVF cycles share a common cause: chromosomal abnormalities in the egg that occur during maturation. The preconception window is a critical time to minimize the potential for these errors and abnormalities and improve egg quality with nutrients proven to make a difference:
- Vitamin C: Low levels of ascorbic acid have been found in women who experience multiple miscarriages.
- Vitamins B6 and B12: B6 and B12 work together to regulate healthy hormone balance and trigger regular ovulation for a greater chance of conception. The right amount of B6 helps promote balanced levels of estrogen and progesterone, which is crucial for the cell signaling that happens during egg maturation and ovulation. B12 is necessary for cell division and building healthy blood. Supplementing with evidence-based levels of these vitamins also improves outcomes for IVF.
- Vitamin D: Women with high levels of vitamin D show a four-fold increase in successfully achieving pregnancy following IVF. Other studies have found a link between high vitamin D levels and higher pregnancy rates. Vitamin D supplementation is also associated with an improvement in hormonal function among women with PCOS.
- Vitamin E: Vitamin E is known for its role in cellular repair, which is why it’s commonly found in skincare products. In the ovaries, E is a powerful antioxidant that can help defend against oxidative damage to eggs and prevent the most negative effects of premature aging.
- Zinc: Zinc is involved in multiple processes that regulate germ cell growth, fertility, and pregnancy.
- Vitamin K2: Vitamin K2 has an important relationship with women’s hormonal health, aiding in estrogen and progesterone metabolism. In a 2016 study, women with PCOS who took K2 supplements had lower levels of DHEA and free testosterone, which creates a greater opportunity for hormonal healing.
- Folate: Supplementing with a high-quality, bioavailable form of methylated folate has been shown to substantially lower the risk of chromosomal abnormalities. Adequate folate levels also help improve chances of conception.
- Chromium: This mineral may help improve fertility in women with PCOS by reducing insulin and testosterone levels.
Nutrients to Optimize Fertility in Men
In men, improving sperm health is likewise tied to specific nutrients. Men produce millions of sperm every day, but they also have a maturation process that takes about three months. To produce the healthiest sperm across every measurable parameter, a steady stream of the right nutrients is critical:
- CoQ10: An antioxidant known for its essential role in metabolic function, it’s been shown to increase sperm motility and improve fertilization rates within just a few weeks.
- Methylated folate: There is evidence that folate supplementation improves sperm count, morphology, and motility. One study also found low folate levels in semen is associated with a greater risk of sperm DNA damage.
- Vitamins C, E, B6 and B12: This group of antioxidants helps improve sperm quantity, motility, and morphology, as well as protecting sperm from free radical damage.
- Vitamin D: Technically a hormone, vitamin D supplementation is linked to higher quality sperm, while low vitamin D levels are associated with poor sperm quality.
- L-Carnitine: This compound, which helps support metabolism, is associated with improved sperm quality and higher fertilization rates.
- Selenium: This antioxidant has been shown to raise testosterone and improve multiple sperm parameters, even in infertile men.
- N-acetyl-L-cystine (NAC): Studies show that supplementing with NAC significantly improves all semen parameters, particularly when combined with selenium.
- Zinc: Multiple studies show that zinc supplementation improves sperm motility, morphology, and volume. Plus, low zinc levels are common in men with infertility.
- L-Arginine: This amino acid plays a pivotal role in sperm production and has been shown to improve sperm quality.
- L-Taurine: Low levels of this antioxidant are associated with male factor infertility.
- Shilajit: This Ayurvedic adaptogen has been used for centuries for virility. It’s been shown to increase sperm count, motility, and testosterone in men diagnosed with infertility.
It Takes Two
For couples hoping to become parents, quality prenatal vitamins that deliver critical nutrients in adequate amounts to both partners are the best way to ensure the kind of optimal fertility health that may be hard to get from diet alone. The fact is, the fertility of each parent can impact your ability to get pregnant, stay pregnant, and deliver a healthy baby.
Before conception can occur, both sperm and egg need healthy, well-nourished environments in which to thrive. That’s what makes the preconception period so important — it’s during this timeframe that epigenetic information about both parents’ health and lifestyle is passed onto potential future children through the maturing sperm and eggs.
In creating Beli Vitality for Men and Beli for Women, we referenced the latest in fertility nutrition. Our science-aligned formulas include all of the nutrients we’ve listed above, simply because they’ve been shown to promote and support critical factors in fertility health. That includes improving all sperm quality parameters, protecting egg quality, reducing the length of time it takes to conceive, and offering a greater likelihood of carrying a healthy baby to term. Because just as it takes two to make a baby, it takes two to truly cover all those nutritional bases — two prenatal vitamins, that is.
Role of micronutrients in the periconceptional period. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19567449/
Vitamin C found to increase progesterone levels and correct luteal phase defect. http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/feh/feh_15vitamin_c.html
The effect of coenzyme Q10 on sperm motility and function. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9266524/
Effect of vitamin D status on clinical pregnancy rates following in vitro fertilization. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3985938/
The role of vitamin D in fertility and during pregnancy and lactation: A review of clinical data. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6210343/
Effects of vitamin D supplementation in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a review. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31187648/
Vitamin E as an antioxidant in female reproductive health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5836012/
Role of zinc in female reproduction.
The effects of vitamin D-K-Calcium co-supplementation on endocrine, inflammation, and oxidative stress biomarkers in vitamin D-deficient women with polycystic ovary syndrome: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27050252/
Folic acid supplementation and pregnancy: More than just neural tube defect prevention.
The effects of chromium supplementation on gene expression of insulin, lipid, and inflammatory markers in infertile women with polycystic ovary syndrome candidate for in vitro fertilization: A randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial.
Coenzyme Q10 effect on semen parameters: Profound or meagre? https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/and.13570
Zinc and Folate Supplement Improves Semen Quality: A Prospective Study in Subfertile Males.
Low folate in seminal plasma is associated with increased sperm DNA damage. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18722602/
Antioxidant supplements and semen parameters: An evidence based review. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28066832/
The role of vitamin D in male fertility: A focus on the testis. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11154-017-9425-0
Vitamin D deficiency and low ionized calcium are linked with semen quality and sex steroid levels in infertile men.
The role of carnitine in male infertility. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/andr.12191
Short-term medication of L-carnitine before intracytoplasmic sperm injection for infertile men with oligoasthenozoospermia. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22474993/
Selenium–vitamin E supplementation in infertile men: effects on semen parameters and pregnancy rate. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3048346/
Effects of N-acetyl-cysteine supplementation on sperm quality, chromatin integrity and level of oxidative stress in infertile men. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6377938/
Efficacy of selenium and/or N-acetyl-cysteine for improving semen parameters in infertile men: a double-blind, placebo controlled, randomized study. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19091331/
Zinc levels in seminal plasma and their correlation with male infertility: A systematic review and meta-analysis.
Zinc is an essential element for male fertility: A review of Zn roles in men’s health, germination, sperm quality, and fertilization. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6010824/
Sperm quality in men is improved by supplementation with a combination of L-arginine, L-citrullin, roburins and Pycnogenol®. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25531191/
Taurine deficiency in sperm causes male infertility. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180511102357.htm
Clinical evaluation of spermatogenic activity of processed Shilajit in oligospermia. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20078516/