There are claims all over the internet of things you should try that could make you have a baby, but here are five scientifically-backed, tried and true nutrients that can actually increase fertility (and none of them include vaginal steaming, which seems to be making the rounds on the internet lately).
Astaxanthin — This one’s for the guys, but clinical research shows that astaxanthin (an antioxidant) taken in 16 mg doses daily for at least 3 months, increased pregnancy rates five-fold in infertile men. It also has other health benefits, including anti-anxiety, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory, while also promoting blood sugar regulation, normal blood pressure, and increased endurance and muscle strength. It also improves fatigue and eye health. While it can be beneficial for women, leave this one for the men as not enough studies have shown that women would benefit from it. While astaxanthin can be found in food sources, like salmon, one would have to eat roughly 6-8 ounces daily to get a supplemental amount, so it’s best taken in supplement form. Any dosage between 4 and 40 mg has been shown to be safe and nontoxic, but for infertility, studies recommend 16 mg for at least three months prior to trying to conceive. Be sure to purchase a supplement that is free from fillers and is produced by a reputable company. For the best quality, obtain a recommendation from a nutritionist.
Coenzyme Q10 — A potent antioxidant, coenzyme Q10—also known as ubiquinone, or in the active form, ubiquinol—is beneficial for both male and female fertility, improving sperm count and motility in men, and egg quality in women. It also helps to protect sperm from oxidative damage. It can even be used during pregnancy, from 20 weeks gestation until term, to reduce the risk of preeclampsia. Coenzyme Q10 is often taken in 100 to 300 mg doses, most commonly 100 mg twice daily.
Ashwagandha — This herb is known as an adaptogen as it helps the body to resist stress in many forms. Ashwagandha is used for fertility purposes in both men and women, although its uses go far beyond reproductive health, including for cases of arthritis, insomnia, inflammatory conditions, fibromyalgia, menstrual disorders, and cognitive disorders. It has even been used to treat asthma. For infertility in men, ashwagandha was shown in a prospective study to reduce oxidative stress and improve semen quality. For women, ashwagandha reduces stress, which can put the body in a more optimal state for conception. Ashwagandha should not be taken by those who are on thyroid medication or immunosuppressants, like prednisone, as it can alter the way that body uses those drugs.
Selenium — An essential trace mineral, selenium performs critical work in the body as a cofactor for antioxidant enzymes such as glutathione, which protects organs from oxidative stress. Selenium is beneficial for treating infertility in men and women as well as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, thyroid disorders, arthritis and inflammatory disorders, fatigue, and miscarriage prevention. Without selenium, reproductive systems in both men and women will not function normally. When deficient in selenium, infertility can occur, as well as increased risk of miscarriage, gestational complications, and birth defects. In men, selenium deficiency can cause reduced sperm quality and poor motility. It is arguably equally as important that men and women trying to conceive supplement with selenium as it is that they supplement with folate, which is notable for preventing neural tube birth defects. Selenium can be found in foods such as Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, and most meats, but supplementation of 100-200 mcg is appropriate for both men and women while trying to conceive and during pregnancy. Daily intake should not exceed 400 mcg, and doses less than 100 mcg may prove ineffective. Most prenatal supplements or multivitamins will contain selenium. If they don’t contain enough, supplement with an additional selenium supplement.
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