When trying to conceive, doctors may suggest a variety of things to help optimize one’s health and taking vitamins and supplements is typically on the list. Daily intake of certain supplements could help in many ways for those trying to conceive, including boosting the overall quality of a woman’s eggs and a male’s sperm, as well as the overall health of a woman’s pregnancy.
Below, is a list of a few important vitamins and supplements to consider taking when you’re trying to conceive. It’s important to note that you should be receiving many of your daily vitamins and minerals from food sources. But if you have trouble getting all of the recommended daily amounts through food, supplements are a great addition to your diet. Also, many of these listed below, such as folic acid, B12, B6, and iron, can already be found in prenatal vitamins. But if your prenatal vitamin doesn’t include some of these important standalone vitamins and supplements, you might want to consider adding a few to your daily intake. As always, consult with a primary care doctor if these vitamins and supplements are right for you.
- Acetyl L-carnitine: Acetyl L-carnitine (ALC) can be taken by both men and women to help boost fertility. The supplement helps sperm mobility for men and contains antioxidants that help promote a healthy female reproductive system. ALC can also help improve symptoms of PCOS, endometriosis, and amenorrhea – all diseases that usually negatively impact fertility in women.
- Suggested amount: 1,000-3,000 milligrams daily for both men and women.
- Vitamin B6 and B12: B vitamins not only help to promote egg health and prevent ovulatory infertility, but they may even improve sperm quality. For women, high homocysteine levels in the follicles are often associated with problems with ovulation. Low homocysteine levels, meanwhile, may improve the odds of becoming pregnant! A study in the medical journal Reproductive Toxicology found that those who took supplemental folate and vitamins B6 and B12 lowered their homocysteine levels, and this was in women with a history of pregnancy loss. A separate study conducted in 2017 called “Vitamin B12 and Semen Quality” also found that increased B12 intake in men resulted in improved semen quality.
- Suggested amount: For B12, 1,000 micrograms once per week for men and women. For B6, 1.4 milligrams for men and 1.2 milligrams for women daily.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and can promote healthy reproductive systems in both men and women. For women, vitamin C can reduce the negative impact of free radicals, in turn reducing cellular damage in the body. It can also help regulate a person’s menstrual cycle and promote normal ovulation. As for vitamin C’s impact on male fertility, The Nutrition and Food Security Research Center found that taking vitamin C with vitamin E improved the number, mobility, and sometimes DNA quality of sperm.
- Suggested amount: 90 milligrams daily for men and 75 milligrams daily for women.
- Coenzyme Q10: Coenzyme Q10 (also called Coq10) is a naturally occurring compound in humans, and it’s been shown that it can improve fertility – especially in women over 40. Not only does it improve egg quality but is also helps to thicken the uterine lining. This is important because women with a thinner uterine lining often have more trouble getting pregnant. But if you’re taking a Coq10 supplement, you should stop after you become pregnant.
- Suggested amount: Suggested amount will vary depending on your specific needs but typically between 100-600 milligrams per day is often recommended for men and women.
- Vitamin D: This vitamin is an important one for fertility, and these days, vitamin D deficiency is extremely common. Since vitamin D is essential for the development of healthy hormones, which in turn is important for fertility, people trying to get pregnant should test themselves for a deficiency and start taking supplemental vitamin D if necessary. Additionally, this vitamin is also thought to improve ovarian stimulation in women and semen quality in men.
- Suggested amount: 2,000 to 4,000 international units (IU) daily for men and women.
- Vitamin E: Most people will recognize vitamin E from their skincare – tons of products include this one to help “reduce wrinkles,” because vitamin E works for repair cells. That’s also exactly what makes it a great vitamin to boost fertility. A study named “Vitamin E as an Antioxidant in Female Reproductive Health” suggests that vitamin E improves women’s overall reproductive health and improves egg quality. For men, it helps to boost sperm quality, according to research in the International Journal of Reproductive Biomedicine. It’s especially important for older (35+ years old) patients trying to get pregnant to take vitamin E.
- Suggested amount: 15 milligrams daily for men and women.
- Folic acid: Most people associate folic acid as a prenatal vitamin, but it can also be a really great supplement for those who are trying to conceive. Folic acid is associated with greater chances of getting pregnant naturally and improves success for those undergoing fertility treatments. Medical professionals also recommend that men take folic acid when trying to conceive, as it can improve the quality of their sperm.
- Suggested amount: 400-1,000 micrograms for women, 400 micrograms for men.
- Iron: Taking an iron supplement may help women prevent iron deficiency anemia. Ovulatory infertility can be associated with an iron deficiency, and a long-term study by the Department of Nutrition and Epidemiology of more than 18,000 women showed that supplementing with iron appeared to decrease the risk of ovulatory infertility.
- Suggested amount: 27 milligrams daily for men and women.
- Omega-3s: Omega-3s can be helpful for men and women, boosting men’s sperm motility and helping achieve pregnancy in women over the age of 35. Omega-3s may help the overall egg quality in women trying to conceive. You can find Omega-3s in seafoods, or you can try fish oil pills. If you are getting your Omega-3s via a supplement, you will want to look for DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), as that is the most bioavailable (easier for your body to absorb and use).
- Suggested amount: 500-1,000 milligrams daily for men and women.
- Selenium: Many view selenium as a “super” vitamin for fertility, because of its antioxidant powers. Selenium helps to promote healthy uterine follicles, where the eggs are developed and released. It’s recommended that pregnant women take about 60 mcg daily when trying to conceive. It’s also a great one for men as well. Low selenium in men can lead to lowered sperm mobility and quality.
- Suggested amount: 55 micrograms daily for men and women.
- Zinc: Zinc is essential to make sperm, and some studies have suggested that a zinc deficiency could lead to low quality sperm. As for zinc and female fertility, a 2019 study from Robinson Research Institute, Adelaide Medical School, Waite Research Institute, and School of Medical Science found that lower levels of zinc in the blood were associated with longer time trying to conceive, so zinc may help a women’s fertilization and egg development.
- Suggested amount: 11 milligrams daily for men and 8 milligrams daily for women.
Taking these vitamins and supplements can be beneficial before conception, during the pregnancy, and beyond. It’s important to talk to your doctor about what supplements might be right for you, and how they can increase the chance of conception and a successful pregnancy. Maintaining a healthy balance of these vitamins can be beneficial in your fertility journey, but in your overall health as well.