Pnina Klinger, Chinese Medicine Practitioner (Dip. Ac)
Women often ask me what supplements they can take in order to increase their chances of conceiving and support a healthy pregnancy. Below are some suggestions, however before taking any supplement, (with the exception of folic acid which is recommended for every woman trying to conceive) please speak to your doctor as to whether it is right for you.
1: Folic Acid
Folic acid is necessary to take before and during pregnancy as it can help increase your chances of becoming pregnant and can help prevent birth defects of the baby’s brain and spinal cord. Folic acid may also protect the baby from low birth weight, poor growth in the uterus and miscarriage. Before conception (at least three months before) and during the first trimester of pregnancy, 400mcg of folic acid should be taken every day. During the second and third trimesters of pregnancy 600mcg of folic acid should be taken every day. Breastfeeding mothers need 500mch of folic acid per day. In addition to taking folic acid as a supplement, here are some natural sources of folate: fortified breakfast cereal, lentils, spinach, beans, beef liver.
2: CoQ10 Enzyme
Research has found that the CoQ10 may improve fertility in both men and women. It has been recommended that men with sperm related problems take CoQ10 to improve sperm concentration, density and mobility. Today there are studies that suggest that CoQ10 could be important for female fertility as well. There are different theories as to why and how CoQ10 may improve egg quality, but what we do know is that the amount of CoQ10 naturally found in the body decreases with age and studies suggest that women with low ovarian reserve or those over 40 who are trying to get pregnant may benefit from 300-600mcg CoQ10 supplement. In pregnancy it is recommended to stop taking the supplement as its effect in pregnancy has not be studied. It is best to consult with your doctor in order to determine if CoQ10 could be helpful to you.
3: Omega 3 Fatty Acid
Omega 3 fatty acid has been proven to help fertility as it helps regulate hormones, promote ovulation and increases cervical mucus as well as the flow of blood. Our bodies cannot naturally make Omega 3 fatty acid so we must rely on gaining this nutrient either through diet or supplement. Women trying to get pregnant should take 650mcg of Omega 3 every day. Once pregnant, it is best to switch to a pregnancy Omega 3 formulation which contains higher amounts of DHA for fetal brain health. Natural sources of Omega 3 are fish oil and flax oil. It’s important to mention that Omega 3 can slow blood clotting and increase the effects of anticoagulants like coumadin so best to consult with your doctor in order to determine if Omega 3 could be helpful to you.
Women with low ovarian reserve or women over 40 may benefit from taking a DHEA supplement as it may help improve the quality of the eggs. Ideally DHEA needs to be taken 16-20 weeks before IVF. Studies have found that women with low ovarian reserve (low AMH and low follicle count) often have low levels of DHEA and testosterone. By supplementing with DHEA it is possible to raise both AMH levels and follicle count thereby improve the quality and quantity of eggs retrieved. DHEA is a hormone precursor and should not be taken without talking to your doctor.