You are what you eat, and your baby will be too. Eating right will not only help ensure a healthy little one—it can actually help you get pregnant. If you’re thinking about a family, make the dietary changes now to give your body a head start. Fathers-to-be aren’t off the hook here—diet & lifestyle can have a huge impact on male fertility.
B6. This vital nutrient regulates hormones, and a deficiency can lead to poor egg and sperm development. Oral contraceptives can do a number on B6 levels, so if you’ve been on the pill, supplementing is a good idea. What to eat: zucchini, cauliflower, bell peppers, dark, leafy greens (kale, collards, spinach), bananas.
Folic acid. Folate isn’t just important once you’re pregnant. Though your developing baby needs a ton of it to develop, adding it to your pre-pregnancy plan means healthy ovulatory cycles. What to eat: spinach, lentils, beans, avocado, asparagus, oranges.
Omega-3s. In addition to keeping your cells healthy and happy, omega 3s are key to balancing hormones and battling inflammation. Even with a diet high in fish it’s tough to get enough, so consider taking fish oil—high quality fish oils will also be free of contaminants. What to eat: salmon, mackerel, herring, anchovies.
Iron. Popeye had the right idea, even if he didn’t have fertility in mind. Low iron levels can mean poor egg health and lack of ovulation—plus, once you do conceive your baby is going to suck you dry, so build up your stores now! What to eat: spinach, organic tofu, organic grass-fed red meat.
Vitamin C. While it helps improve hormone balance in women, studies show that the nutrient improves sperm motility—good news on both fronts. What to eat: kiwi fruit, citrus, bell peppers.
Selenium. This antioxidant mineral protects eggs and sperm from free radicals. It’s also reputed to improve sperm quality. What to eat: Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, salmon.
Zinc. This one is especially important for men—it boosts sperm levels and improves sperm quality. For women, zinc deficiencies can throw off the balance between estrogen and progesterone. Oral contraceptives deplete zinc, but even without the pill many of us aren’t getting enough. What to eat: pumpkin seeds, green peas, spinach, sesame seeds.
When in doubt, add a multivitamin. Your doctor will want you on one once you conceive, but you’ll get more benefits if you start supplementing before you get pregnant. Look for one with Folic acid and B12 as well as a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals. t. Between your relaxed attitude, healthy diet, and happy body, you’ll be well on the road to fertility—just make sure you get your sleep in now, before it’s too late!
Written by: Darcy Smith, RNCP