Which are the nutrients that taken correctly could positively affect fertility?


Modern lifestyle is combined with fast food and fast living.  Simultaneously, people’s need to take care of themselves with a more natural way, has led to an increased interest around food supplements.  One of the most frequent questions to a specialist is around the use and usefulness of such supplements, in cases of fertility or pregnancy.

Evidence – based medicine has shown that cessation of smoke and alcohol improves sperm parameters, whilst reduction of obesity ameliorates oocyte quality.  The same scientific evidence should accompany the information given to a couple wishing to ameliorate their fertility with food supplements. Simultaneously, most such supplements are a combination of nutrients, so clinical trials of each one of them are difficult.  The dosages used, the combination of nutrients, the excipients that contain them and the different population groups can affect the final impact that have in the body.

Nutrients with a positive impact to female fertility are vitamins B6, D, E iodine, selenium, inositol, folic acid and Ω3 fatty acids. In addition, regarding male fertility Vitamin A, magnesium, Zinc, copper, arginine, carnitine, lycopenium, Q10 acetylcysteine and many more improve sperm parameters.

The use of folic acid decreases spinal tube defeats to the fetus, whilst increases sperm count and stabilizes sperm DNA.  B6 acts similarly in women, while there are studies combining vitamin D desperation with reduced estrogen production and endometrial receptivity in women, and reduced androgen and deterioration of spermatogenesis in men.

Vitamins C and E are strong antioxidants. Vitamin C boosts growth and content of the follicle, whilst E stabilizes cell membranes.  Both improve sperm parameters and decrease its fragmentation. Whereas Vitamin C excess is excreted in urine, so even taken in very high dosages can do no harm, intake of vitamin E should be thrifty, as it is fat soluble and stays in the body for longer, creating a significant burden mainly to the liver.  For men Vitamin A is also very important in maintaining a healthy spermatogenesis.

Iodine and selenium are necessary for the normal thyroid function, and important for a couple’s fertility as well.  Iron improves hemoglobin levels, preventing anemia in women. Zinc and carnitine boost sperm motility, whilst Q10 has an antioxidant action.  Ω3 fatty acids consumption ameliorates oocyte quality and endometrial thickness and by stabilizing membranes improves sperm parameters.

The list of nutrients that act as adjuvants is extensive.  Studies do not highlight the exact dosage or action that someone needs for a specific problem. But, when medicine is applied by the Hippocratic “first do no harm” and taken into consideration the maximum daily dosage and each person’s separate needs, we can only do good to one’s patients.

Christina Ioakeimidou

MD, BSCCP, MRCOG, MSc in Human Reproduction & Development