If you are planning to have a baby, every little helps. In addition to adopting a completely green, organic lifestyle, my partner and I boosted our vitamin intake, particularly antioxidants selenium, vitamins C and E, and zinc.
Zinc is the most widely studied nutrient in terms of fertility for both men and women. It is an essential component of genetic material and a zinc deficiency can cause chromosome changes in either you or our partner, leading to reduced fertility and an increased risk of miscarriage. Zinc is necessary for your body to use the reproductive hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, more efficiently.
However, zinc is even more important for your partner: zinc is found in high concentrations in the sperm. Zinc is needed to make the outer layer and tail of the sperm and is, therefore, essential for the health of your partner’s sperm and, subsequently, your baby. Interestingly, several studies have also shown that reducing zinc in a man’s diet will also reduce his sperm count. Your partner should take at least 30 mg of zinc per day starting at least two months before conceiving.
Another important mineral to recommend to your partner is selenium, an antioxidant that helps to protect your body from highly reactive chemical fragments called free radicals. Selenium can prevent chromosome breakage, and good levels of selenium are also essential to maximise sperm formation. Blood selenium levels have been found to be lower in men with low sperm counts. Selenium is not without side effects: among the most common are split nails and weakened hair. If you feel you need to boost your chances, the recommended dosage is 1000 mg per day. Among natural sources of selenium are eggs, onions, garlic, brazil nuts, seafood, shellfish, egg yolk, onions, garlic, dairy, wheat germ, whole grains, and brewer’s yeast.
When you are trying to conceive make sure your partner consumes enough of essential fatty acids since the semen is rich in prostaglandins which are produced from these fats. Men with poor sperm quality, abnormal sperm, poor motility or low count, have inadequate levels of these beneficial prostaglandins.
Plant-derived vitamin E is also beneficial for sperm fertility and motility, while natural vitamin C is known for protecting sperm and the DNA within it from damage. If DNA is damaged, there may be a chromosomal problem in the baby, should the pregnancy proceed. Whether or not DNA damage does have these effects has not been conclusively proven, but it’s worth taking vitamin C and the other antioxidants as a precautionary measure.
Some of you may opt for pills that contain all of these vitamins and minerals. But naturals forms of zinc, selenium, vitamins C and E should not be neglected. They are good for you, and adequate levels of these life-savers in your body will be even better for your little one.