Nutrition and Female Fertility
Infertility affects an estimated 15.5% of reproductive-age women in the U.S. Although human fecundity, or the ability to produce a baby, is challenging to determine precisely, developing scientific efforts are focusing on modifiable factors like lifestyle and diet. The notion that dietary shifts may boost fertility appears to be promising.
Folic Acid: Folate is crucial in fertilization, pregnancy, and is involved in the synthesis of DNA. Accordingly, folate, the natural form of B9, or folic acid, the synthetic form of B9, may play a vital role in reproduction. Current evidence widely supports folic acid supplementation before and during pregnancy.
Vitamin D: Receptors spread across the reproductive system, and literature suggests Vitamin D may balance reproductive processes. Animal studies have shown that diets deficient in vitamin D have reduced fertility. Despite promising mechanisms, evidence remains inconclusive as to the effect, who will benefit, and at what dose.
Carbohydrates: Evidence suggests that a diet containing larger amounts of whole grains and low in glycemic load may assist fertility. Also, fiber-rich diets may reduce estrogen levels but may not affect assisted reproductive technologies (ART) or infertility risk.
Fatty Acids: Commonly known as saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated, fatty acids play a vital role in reproductive function, implantation, and pregnancy maintenance. Conversely, trans fatty acids increase insulin resistance and negatively affect the ovulation process.
Protein and Soy: Specific recommendations on the amount and type of protein intake do not currently exist for women trying to conceive or undergoing fertility treatments. Meat, fish, and dairy can contain environmental contaminants, but there is little evidence of the relationship between red and white meats with reproductive outcomes. However, studies suggest that soy has no detrimental effect and may benefit ART outcomes. Further studies indicate the benefits of fish consumption may outweigh the risks from environmental contaminants.
Concerns and Conclusion
Although foods may contain contaminants, there is evidence that certain nutrients can interact with toxicants and affect health. For instance, in both non-human and human studies, soy food and folates were protective against adverse reproductive effects of bisphenol-A (BPA).
In general, women trying to become pregnant are encouraged to reduce their consumption of trans fats and red meats and increase their intake of whole grains, fish, omega-3 fatty acids, and soy.
As always, MCRM Fertility strives to keep you at the forefront of new information as it becomes available. Our team is here to support you and answer any questions or concerns you may have.