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Nutrition and vitamins if you want to have children

by Josephine Andrews
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A balanced diet with enough vitamins and other nutrients makes sense even before pregnancy. But what does the right diet look like? Which vitamins and other nutrients are particularly important when trying to have children? Can Vitamins Help You Get Pregnant? Read more about “fertility vitamins” and how you can optimally prepare your body for pregnancy with folic acid, vitamin D and Co.

Which vitamins can support the desire to have children?

Do vitamins help to get pregnant? A proven “fertility vitamin” is unknown. Still, it makes sense for women who want to have children to ensure that they have an adequate supply of vitamins (and other nutrients) even before pregnancy because deficiency symptoms can reduce the chance of becoming pregnant.

In addition, if the stores are well-filled, the increased need during pregnancy can be covered right from the start, preventing possible complications.

Vitamins that are particularly important if you want to have children

Some vitamins play a special role in the desire to have children. In addition to vitamin C , vitamin E and various B vitamins , these are primarily folic acid and vitamin D. Vitamin A , on the other hand, should only be consumed in moderation before pregnancy and in the first few weeks of pregnancy.

folic acid

Folic acid (folate) actually belongs to the B vitamins. The female body needs a lot of it, especially in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy, so that the embryo can develop healthily. A folic acid deficiency can lead to deformities such as spina bifida (“spina bifida”) during this sensitive time. This is characterized by the incomplete closure of the bony spine and can cause various neurological symptoms depending on the extent.

To prepare for pregnancy, experts recommend increasing your intake of folic acid at least a month before you are likely to conceive. In concrete terms, it should be 400 micrograms of folate daily for women who want to have children.

Vitamin D

vitamin D deficiency can hinder the desire to have children. Studies have shown that women with adequate vitamin D levels are about four times more likely to conceive than women who do not have enough vitamin D.

If you wish to have children, you should therefore clarify with your doctor whether you have a vitamin D deficiency and, if so, which preparation you should take to compensate.

Be careful with vitamin A

Even before pregnancy, women who want to have children should avoid products with a high vitamin A content, especially liver . The body cannot simply excrete the fat-soluble vitamin in the urine (like it can with water-soluble vitamins) if there is too much of it. A high vitamin A concentration can therefore cause damage to health: In women in the first four months of pregnancy, these are developmental disorders in the embryo.

What should the diet look like if you want to have children?

The following applies to both women and men who wish to have children: A balanced diet in accordance with the recommendations of the German Society for Nutrition ensures an adequate supply of most of the nutrients necessary for health and thus also fertility.

  • It makes sense to eat a varied, colorful diet with lots of vegetables and fruit (5 portions a day), whole grains, dairy products and little saturated fat and sugar.
  • Fish should be on the menu once or twice a week.
  • On the other hand, meat and sausages should be eaten as little as possible – just like foods that contain a lot of fat and/or sugar and industrially processed products.
  • Vegetable fats should be preferred to animal fats, for example rapeseed oil for frying food.
  • Careful preparation of meals is also important in order to preserve the nutrients contained in the food as far as possible (e.g. steam vegetables instead of boiling).

Recent studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may be helpful in trying to have children by increasing female fertility. In addition, the intake of these fatty acids, which are mainly found in plant-based foods, may improve the success of artificial insemination (in-vitro fertilization). However, there is no definitive clarity about this connection – further studies are required.

A diet such as that described above not only provides all the important nutrients in sufficient quantities, but also helps to achieve or maintain a normal weight . This is very important for the fulfillment of the desire to have children:

Being underweight can reduce the chance of pregnancy in women, since the body then does not have enough reserves to take care of the maturing child. It automatically switches to the back burner, which has a negative effect on fertility. In men, being underweight can impair testicular function and thus impair fertility.

Conversely, severe obesity can trigger menstrual disorders in women and disrupt sperm production in men. In both cases, this can mean that having children does not work out.

Important minerals if you want to have children

A balanced, varied and plant-based diet, as described above, provides many minerals (major elements such as calcium and trace elements such as iron ) in addition to vitamins. They are also important for fertility. If you want to have children, for example, these substances are critical:

Eisen

Many women are iron deficient . The reason for this is menstrual bleeding, in which blood and therefore iron are regularly lost. Since iron during pregnancy is important for the blood formation of the embryo, among other things, women who want to have children can replenish their iron stores beforehand. The German Society for Nutrition (DGE) recommends a daily iron intake of around 15 mg for non-pregnant women. During pregnancy, the requirement doubles to 30 mg per day.

calcium

Among other things, calcium is important for building muscles and bones – not only in the woman herself, but also in the case of pregnancy in the unborn child. Women over the age of 18 should consume 1,000 milligrams per day.

Iodine

The body needs the trace element to form the vital thyroid hormones. During pregnancy, this need can be increased. A sufficient supply of iodine is then all the more important . But even if they want to have children – i.e. even before pregnancy occurs – women should make sure they take in enough iodine:

In Germany and Austria, the recommended daily dose for women (and men) up to the age of 50 is 200 micrograms, in Switzerland 150 micrograms. During pregnancy, women should consume 230 micrograms (Germany and Austria) or 200 micrograms (Switzerland) daily.

Selenium

Selenium plays an important role in developing the embryo’s brain structures and neural pathways. For optimal care, women should consume 60 micrograms per day.

Recommendations for men

Not only women should pay attention to their supply of vitamins and other nutrients if they want to have children – this is also advisable for men. Because some nutrients are essential for male fertility, for example by affecting the number and quality of semen. These include, above all , zinc , calcium and magnesium . Men should therefore ensure that they have an adequate supply of these substances if they wish to have children.

The German Society for Nutrition (DGE) recommends that men take in:

  • minimum 11 and maximum 16 mg zinc per day
  • 1,000 mg of calcium per day (for men aged 19 and over)
  • 350 mg Magnesium pro Tag

Which dietary supplements can support the desire to have children?

Most vitamins and minerals are ingested in adequate amounts through a balanced diet. With some of these micronutrients, however, this is not always possible, so that the requirement should then also be covered by taking appropriate preparations. For example, doctors recommend that women who want to have children take a dietary supplement with regard to folic acid (400 micrograms per day) and iodine (100 micrograms per day).

In addition, targeted substitution before pregnancy can make sense in the case of micronutrients for which there is a widespread undersupply or for which studies suggest positive effects in pre-pregnancy. This applies, for example, to the B vitamins, vitamin C , vitamin D and E, selenium, zinc, magnesium and calcium.

There are also special dietary supplements for men that are said to be helpful if they want to have children – with a wide variety of combinations of active ingredients. However, a clinical study of 2,400 couples showed no significant improvement in semen quality or birth rates when the male partner took supplements containing zinc and folic acid.

Talk to the doctor first

The same applies to men and women: The doctor should always make the decision to take micronutrients in the form of dietary supplements before a hoped-for pregnancy. So before you swallow vitamin and mineral supplements on your own, you should talk to your doctor. If necessary, he can use blood tests to determine the level of important vitamins and minerals and, if necessary, recommend specific supplementary preparations.

Consultation with the doctor also ensures that you do not overdose on vitamins and minerals – and that you may have unpleasant or dangerous side effects.

Yam root, pomegranate juice, turmeric and Co. – helpful if you want to have children?

A fertility-enhancing effect is ascribed to some exotic foods. For example, the yam root is said to have a supportive effect on the desire to have children: it contains diosgenin – a precursor of the human hormone progesterone, which takes on essential tasks during pregnancy and the development of the embryo. However, the positive effect on fertility that diosgenin is often said to have has not been scientifically proven.

Pomegranate juice, commonly considered an aphrodisiac, is also said to be beneficial if you want to have children because it positively affects fertility. So far, however, there is no scientific evidence for this. Without question, the juice of the exotic fruit is healthy because it provides a lot of vitamin C, among other things.

The spice turmeric is often mentioned when it comes to the desire to have children. It is believed that the curcumin contained in it stabilizes the female estrogen level and promotes regular ovulation. However, these hypotheses have not yet been substantiated.

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