Fertility

The key nutrients that might be missing from your fertility supplement (according to a senior nutritionist)

Emma Harpham in partnership with Jenny Carson, Senior Nutritionist at Viridian Nutrition  |   19 Sep 2023


Nutrients for fertility

If you’re currently trying to conceive, it won’t come as a shock to hear that a considered, nutrient-rich diet is crucial for supporting your fertility.

But, you might be a little more surprised to learn that many of the high-street dietary supplements out there that are ‘designed’ to support your conception goals are actually missing many of the key nutrients for fertility. And with so many food supplements marketed for female fertility support, it can be difficult to know what you’re getting when comes to essential nutrients. 

We’ve partnered with Viridian Nutrition to help you separate the wheat from the chaff. Choosing only the purest ingredients, Viridian supplements are created by expert nutritionists with clean formulations containing 100% active ingredients. You can skip straight to their women’s range – with essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, it packs a fertility punch. 

We asked Jenny Carson, Senior Nutritionist at Viridian Nutrition, for her personal pointers for choosing a supplement – and the top nutrients for fertility and ingredients she’d look for on the label. 

What are the key nutrients for fertility, and how do they work?

Antioxidants

Important fertility-boosting antioxidant nutrients include vitamin C with citrus bioflavonoids, vitamin E and alpha lipoic acid

They protect against oxidative stress which has been found to impact maternal DNA and egg quality, explains Jenny.

It is always best to make sure you’re taking a supplement with several different antioxidant nutrients as opposed to just one, due to their synergistic activity.”  

Folate

It’s pretty well-known that periconceptional folic acid is essential to reduce the risk of neural tube defects, making it one of the most famous nutrients for fertility. 

 However, folic acid supplementation is also associated with improved egg and embryo quality.

“Folates (B9 when in food, or folic acid as a supplement) work with vitamin B12 to keep homocysteine in check. Elevated homocysteine is associated with lowered fertility outcomes.”

Iodine

Known for its role in thyroid function and metabolism, iodine plays an important role in brain development and function, as well as fertility.  

“Iodine plays a super important role in ovarian function and is also avidly taken up by the endometrium. Deficiency has therefore been associated with reduced fertility and conception rates.”

Iron

Maintaining our iron levels can often be a bit of a balancing act. And if you’re vegetarian or vegan, getting enough from diet alone can get tricky – but it’s crucial for fertility.

 “Iron is a necessary component in blood haemoglobin to allow the carriage of oxygen to the cells, it regulates the immune system and plays a role in the ovarian production of healthy eggs.”

Selenium

In addition to the protective effect of selenium in its role as an antioxidant nutrient, Jenny explains that selenium helps to protect maternal DNA and supports your dominant follicle during ovulation.  

“In addition, after ovulation selenium supports the endometrium as it prepares for implantation”

Zinc

This one is often overlooked, but zinc is as important as magnesium in health, as well as being a major key player in female fertility.

“Zinc is an antioxidant nutrient, which also plays a role in regulating immunity, glucose metabolism, and normal cell division. Further, the ovaries are sites of dense zinc accumulation necessary for the formation of the follicles and egg development.”

fertilty supplements

Which key nutrients for fertility are often lacking in some of the most popular supplements?

B vitamins and Inositol, besides the omega-3 essential fatty acid DHA and the trace element Chromium, are often missing from female fertility supplements, explains Jenny.   

Here are her top three to look for on the label:

  • Inositol is present in each of our cells and plays a role in blood glucose balance, oocyte maturation and conception.
  • Docosahexaenoic acid, also known as DHA, is an omega-3 essential fatty acid that plays a critical part in implantation. Responsible for brain, eye and nerve health, it is great at guarding against inflammation and protecting our DNA from oxidative damage.
  • Chromium plays a role in handling blood glucose and its delivery into cells. Elevated or imbalanced blood glucose may affect conception success rates.

What else should we look for in a female fertility supplement?

Choose clean

Jenny recommends looking for fertility supplements with clean formulations.

“Many manufacturing aids can be used in the production of food supplements to fill gaps, as flow agents or add a flavour or colour – but all in all, they have zero nutritional value.” she says.

You can read our deep-dive into choosing clean supplements and the ingredients to avoid here.

viridian ethical and pure

Quantities count

If you’re looking for a one-stop fertility supplement, choose a targeted formula to make sure you’re getting the right amount of each nutrient. Jenny explains that Viridian’s vegan nutritionist-formulated fertility supplement focuses purely on the nutrients needed for conception – and choosing a supplement like this instead of picking up a full-spectrum multivitamin is a good rule of thumb.

“If a fertility supplement has a really long list of ingredients and yet the dose is one capsule daily, chances are you are only getting a smidgen of each of the nutrients you need”, she says.  

She also suggests that going for a range of targeted food supplements can ensure you’re getting enough day to day. “For example, you could combine a fertility food supplement, a fish oil and beneficial bacteria to cover all bases. Choosing bespoke combinations like this is great if you’re looking to target specific fertility issues – for example, if you’re managing PCOS, adding myo-inositol into the mix is a good idea, plus l-carnitine for endometriosis.”

Think bioavailability

In simple terms, bioavailability refers to the efficiency with which your body can use or absorb a nutrient. And it’s a pretty important consideration for your fertility supplements, as it turns out. 

Jenny explains that nutrients can have several forms – the form they are found in food and supplements, and the active form. Some forms can also be paired with other nutrients to improve absorption in the body.  

“Some B vitamins that boost fertility are best taken in their active form, such as Adenosylcobalamin and Methylcobalamin for B12, or pyridoxal 5 phosphate for B6, so have a look for these on the label.”

Ready to make the switch? Jump over to Viridian Nutrition’s women’s range. Learn more about how this clean food supplement supports your fertility, and get in touch with their team of qualified nutritionists for more personalised advice and recommendations.

Jenny Carson, MRES, BSc (Hons) is a Senior Nutritionist at ethical vitamin company Viridian Nutrition.

She has over 8 years of experience supporting people with nutritional health advice.

She has completed a Master of Research (MRes) in Public Health, giving her a wide understanding of public health nutrition.

Viridian Nutrition Clean Supplements Jenny Carson

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