Human fertility is one of those key aspects of life which doesn’t receive as much press in the supplements market as it should. At least 50 million couples globally are trying to successfully conceive their first child but simply cannot for various reasons. One group of supplements, which we will come to later has been brought to market to address some of those issues that prevent successful conception.
It is known that a woman’s fertility rate drops from 86% between the ages of 20 and 24 to 52% when between the ages of 35 and 38. Come the age of 45 which apparently is when more and more women are attempting to conceive nowadays and the fertility rates plunges to just 5%.
Surveys from 2010 showed that 2% of women between 20 and 44 years of age simply could not conceive their first live birth whilst 10.5% of women who already had given birth to a first child could not conceive a second. Primary infertility is the description given when a woman cannot produce a first child whilst secondary infertility refers to the difficulties producing a second child.
It appears that there is only a 25% chance of becoming pregnant in every monthly cycle and to push conception as it were requires preparation of the body for at least three months beforehand. Rates of success in pregnancy are enhanced by having the correct nutritional balance and maintaining the appropriate dietary intake. Supplementation has been claimed to improve these chances immeasurably including during assisted reproduction as in ovulation induction and ‘in vitro’ fertilization.
The key vitamins that are needed are A, B6, C,D, E, folate, various minerals like potassium, selenium and zinc and various other nutraceuticals.
Of the vitamins, A still rates highly in improving success rates even though an excess is linked to DNA defects and performing as a teratogen, so managing intake and not overdosing is essential. Vitamin A has been viewed for many years as a natural fertility enhancer. As well as being an antioxidant it is required for development of critical embryonic structures, especially the brain and nervous system.
We know vitamin D is required for healthy bone development but it is also needed for hormone production and supports implantation and also pregnancy success.
Vitamin E is also an important antioxidant. The antioxidants guard against free radical damage usually from environmental sources, and provide a natural defence against all sorts of unpleasant chemicals both within the cell and outside it. A recent study at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health led by Keith West M.D. discovered that insufficient maternal vitamin E during the first trimester raised the risk of pregnancy loss. It appears antioxidant capacity generally which can be derived from vitamins and minerals is crucial for ensuring a baby progresses to a full term. Nutraceuticals can also be considered to be good antioxidants and are too numerous to mention here but a broad inclusion of many sorts does no harm.
Of the minerals, selenium has always been interesting. It is the only mineral that acts as an antioxidant and so is thought to improve the chances of fertility. Iron is well recognised for haemoglobin production and ensuring adequate oxygen movement around the body. It is also implicated in a successful implantation and ensuring oxygenation is optimal during pregnancy and in brain development. A lack of iron leads to disrupted menstruation as well, and is a well known issue too for anorexics.
Zinc is needed not just for immunity but for ovulation and regulation too of the menstrual cycle. Low zinc levels are claimed to disrupt egg maturation, reduce levels of fertilization and also impair implantation.
Of the other minerals, the foetus needs iodine for brain development and thyroid hormone production in the mother. Apparently, during pregnancy thyroid hormone production rises by 50% and so there is a case for iodine deficiency at this point of the term. Lack of iodine is linked to poor fertility and even miscarriage.
Finally, an adequate fatty acid intake especially of the omega-3 type is required for proper neurological and brain development. There is also some evidence that it is linked directly to fertility in women as well as its more publicised role in men’s own fertility.
Of the products on the market, there is a group of new natural fertility and conception tool kits from Fruit Way Ltd. in Tel Aviv, Israel. They include a range of dietary supplements for ‘him’, ‘her’ and as a couple, which have been cleverly linked with a specific fertility app. These supplements are manufactured in the USA using ingredients sources from the same country and manufactured to strict GMP guidelines.
The marketing approach is to ensure that even with busy lifestyles and raised levels of tiredness, the scientifically designed Fruitful iPhone app can be used along with the dietary supplements to improve the chance of conception. Thew claim by the manufacturers is that the fertility supplements optimise and prepare the womans body i.e. ‘her’ for conception and one for ‘him’ will ensure he is successful too. Each supplement is tailored so that they contain the appropriate levels of various minerals and vitamins along with nutraceuticals which when ingested optimise the process for becoming pregnant along with supporting and completing the term of pregnancy.