It’s fairly common knowledge these days that taking folate can improve your chances of falling pregnant. But falling pregnant is just one part of the pregnancy puzzle, and there are many additional vitamins and minerals you can take to improve your chances of a happy, healthy pregnancy. Here are the seven vitamins and minerals that Melbourne Natural Medicine Clinic recommends for better conception and a healthy pregnancy.
If you want to conceive, then taking Folic Acid (a consumable folate taken in supplement form) is crucial for the early growth and development of the foetus. Folate deficiency is something that a foetus can develop, and can present itself as defects in the foetus’ neural tube (i.e. the brain and spinal cord). You’ll find that a vast majority of pregnancy multivitamin supplements will contain enough Folic Acid, but it’s important to start taking it before you become pregnant.
As their first pregnant trimester commences, most women discover their iron stores are insufficient. Iron deficiency can impact on the birth weight of your baby. It can also lead to learning and behavioural problems for the child as well as anaemia in the mother. For the benefit of yourself and your child, we recommend making sure your iron stores are well within a healthy range before you fall pregnant or commence In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF). You’ll soon discover that you’ll rely on these iron stores frequently during the entirety of your pregnancy, and once you have given birth as well.
Unfortunately, most pregnancy multivitamins lack the required minimum amount of iron to avoid anaemia and other pregnancy related iron deficiencies. You’ll therefore likely need a non-constipating iron supplement.
The mineral iodine is one that most Australians are deficient in due to our dietary habits. The human body requires only minimal amounts of the mineral, but it is a crucial mineral during pregnancy, as the thyroid gland requires iodine in order to produce thyroid hormones. The mineral is also vital for the healthy growth and development of your child’s central nervous system.
A lack of iodine has been connected to an increase in the number of miscarriages, birth defects and stillbirths. Checking your iodine levels is as simple as having a urine test at your GP.
By no means the most familiar of fertility nutrients, both men and women should familiarise themselves with carnitine, as it boosts fertility levels for both partners as well as enhances IVF support.
Carnitine provides the essential energy boost to increase productivity and efficiency (in this case helping sperm swim better). The nutrient also acts as a protector of the female eggs, which makes it a worthy mineral for women undergoing IVF to take. Make sure you only take the L-form of carnitine though; enquire with a naturopath at Melbourne Natural Medicine Clinic about the ideal dose and combination for you.
Another of the more familiar vitamins, this is the one we can attain simply by getting out in the great outdoors (while being sun smart, of course). Vitamin D isn’t always easy to get from the diet, and given that we live in a country where we’re highly susceptible to skin cancer, it’s understandable that people might be reluctant to spend too much time in the sun. However, Vitamin D it is essential for calcium regulation, bone health and a strong immune system.
If you have low Vitamin D levels while you’re pregnant, you run the risk of increased complications such as pre-eclampsia. Be aware that it takes a long time to boost Vitamin D levels that are considered low, so if you do plan to conceive, we recommend you get your Vitamin D levels checked before conception. That way you can work towards increasing them before and during your pregnancy.
Studies into the benefits of consuming fish oils during pregnancy have pointed to numerous advantages of an increased omega-3 intake. Such benefits include better sleep patterns, focused attention, and enhanced learning abilities. At the opposite end of the scale, the studies also revealed that low omega-3 levels are possibly linked to Autism spectrum disorders, impaired neurological development in children, premature births, and infants with a significantly low birth weight.
We recommend you stick with practitioner only fish oil to ensure you get the most out of omega-3 fatty acids – and avoid cheap brands if at all possible.
Like iodine, most Australians are particularly deficient in zinc. If you’ve ever spotted white marks on your fingernails, that could point to a zinc deficiency.
Zinc is instrumental in the production of hormones, sperm, and healthy DNA of female and male eggs. Zinc can also help to reduce the likelihood of miscarriage, and assists in the general growth and development of the foetus. Low levels of zinc in the body can influence the delay of conception as well as prolong labour. A long labour is an uncomfortable labour, so consult your local naturopath at Melbourne Natural Medicine Clinic and enquire about getting your zinc levels checked.
Article by MNMC Naturopath Angela Smith
For more information about preconception and fertility, contact MNMC today on 03 9686 2566 to start receiving tailored treatment and advice from experienced and passionate natural medicine practitioners.