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Food supplements and vitamins for fertility

The importance of folic acid for the prevention of open backs in babies and heart defects or cleft lip and palate has been known for over two decades. It is recommended to take 400μg of folic acid daily, starting at least 4 weeks before the planned onset of pregnancy.

Vitamin E is the collective term for fat-soluble substances with an antioxidant effect, which are mainly found in the cell borders and are able to protect polyunsaturated fatty acids from being destroyed by oxidation. The most common form of vitamin E are called tocopherols. Vegetable oils such as sea buckthorn oil, wheat germ, sunflower oil and olive oil have a particularly high vitamin E content.

Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid and belongs to the group of water-soluble vitamins. Vitamin C accumulates in the ovaries in the highest concentrations. In women with defects in the second half of the cycle, or with repeated miscarriage, reduced levels of vitamin C and E might be found. The administration of 750mg of vitamin c per day improved both the progesterone level in the blood and the spontaneous pregnancy rate, while at the same time reducing the rate of miscarriage.

Coenzyme Q10, also called ubiquinone-10, is related to vitamins E and K in terms of its structure. It is involved in energy production. It also acts as an antioxidant. Organs which require a lot of energy have high concentrations of coenzyme Q10 (heart, brain, liver, lungs). It can be ingested daily with good. An advantage with regards to coenzyme Q10 has been observed in young women (under 35) who are poor responders. The successful target parameters in the study showed the mean number of egg cells obtained at egg retrieval double, an increase in the fertilisation rate and a higher number of good quality embryos.

Approximately 60 per cent of adults have a vitamin D deficiency. The deficiency can be caused by diet or illness. Pregnant and breastfeeding women have an increased need for vitamin D. Studies have confirmed a higher pregnancy rate in those with higher vitamin D values. Women who want to get pregnant are recommended to take 20 μg of vitamin D daily. But be careful: too much vitamin D can lead to poisoning.

Resveratrol: This plant product is found at high concentrations in red grapes and red berries. It has anti-inflammatory effects, protects against tumours, heart attacks, diabetes and strengthens the immune system. It promotes the ability of cells to repair and, through this mechanism, improves the quality of the egg and sperm cells. In animal studies, resveratrol improves follicle formation and leads to a higher number of egg cells. Studies from 2016 showed that egg cells develop into blastocysts much better when resveratrol is added to the culture medium. Another study has shown that resveratrol protects bovine sperm during the freezing process.

Cordyceps: In animal experiments it could be shown that Cordyceps extracts influence the formation of certain hormones that are partly responsible for mood. In addition, it massively supports the immune system, increases performance in sporting activities and has a calming or relaxing effect. It can also help with sexual disorders.

Chaste berry (vitex agnus-castus) has been used for a long time. Its effects on premenstrual syndrome, painful menstrual bleeding, luteal phase dysfunction, painfully swollen breasts and menstrual regulation have been proven by clinical studies.

Arginine is the amino acid with the highest nitrogen content. Arginine therefore has a special place in the plant and animal kingdoms. It is not only a nutrient, but also takes on other important functions. The amino acid has recently been recognised as a dietary supplement. The areas of use of arginine mostly revolve around blood circulation and the metabolism: cardiovascular activity and blood vessels, power and body building are the main topics. Arginine is naturally found in many protein-rich foods – especially pumpkin seeds, legumes, meat and fish. The body can also produce it itself. The extent to which nutritional agents containing arginine are therapeutically useful is currently being intensively researched.

Lavender: Lavender, and its oil in particular, is well known as a medicinal plant and for its anti-anxiety properties. The ingredients have a demonstrably positive effect on inner restlessness and anxiety, difficulty falling asleep, tension headaches and nervous gastrointestinal complaints, because lavender is antispasmodic and calming, it stimulates blood circulation and flow.

Maca is a tuber that is native to the highlands of the Peruvian Andes. Depending on the variety, the tubers are white, yellowish, red or even black in colour. The Inca have known what to do with Maca for years: it was used as a fortifying vegetable and maca powder was valued as a medicinal plant to increase fertility and libido. Men should take black maca, as it significantly improves sperm quality. Women should take red maca, which promotes ovulation. The maca used should be organically grown and come from a certain, unmatched nutrient-rich region of Peru, to assure quality it should have the label ‘Maca Junín-Pasco’. In the case of raw powder, attention must be paid to raw food quality. The degree of effectiveness depends on the quality of the plant.

Selenium is a rare trace element. It has only recently been known that mammals need selenium. It caused quite a stir when it was discovered in 1986 that selenium is incorporated into proteins via the amino acid selenocysteine. This meant that the list of amino acids had to be expanded from 20 to 21. Proteins that contain selenium help to control oxidative stress. In doing so, they take on functions such as limiting inflammatory damage. The areas of application that have recently been investigated range from inflammatory diseases to aging and cancer. The intake of additional selenium is controversial, as studies do not provide data that are easy to interpret. Therefore, severe side effects could be observed. Selenium will certainly keep researchers busy for a while. It was previously thought that selenium was poisonous because cattle were poisoned in areas rich in selenium in North America. But the dose makes the poison. Today it is even used in tiny amounts in industrial animal breeding (e.g. chickens and cattle) because it promotes good healthy, performance and reproduction in animals.

Yam root: The healing effects are attributed to the ingredient diosgenin, which is a distant precursor to progesterone, but it is not a ‘natural progesterone’. Still, the internet is full of praise, despite there being no clinical studies. However, there are many positive reports online, but they are only backed up by the experiences of individual people and not larger studies.

Which micronutrients should you choose?
In the Kinderwunsch Institut Dr Loimer, we can advise you on the appropriate intake of vitamins and micronutrients for your desire to have children. Arrange your initial consultation in Linz now!