The question I most often get asked is: “What supplements should I take to improve my fertility?” And the answer is not what you think. Most fertility books, coaches and bloggers will give you a list of supplements that ANYONE can take to improve their fertility. This includes things like a multivitamin and mineral, omega 3, vitamin C and coenzyme Q10.
The problem with following this advice is that YOU are not just anyone. You’re beautifully unique in every way from your hormones to your cycle and your nutrient levels to your blood count. The way you digest food, the bacteria in your gut and your cortisol levels in the morning are different from everyone else.
When you take general advice and self-prescribe supplements it can be like putting a sticky plaster on a broken arm. It doesn’t get the result that you want. To get pregnant and have a healthy pregnancy. This is because you’re not addressing the root of the problem. How could general advice meet your individual needs, imbalances and conditions?
Most people self-prescribe supplements and I get it because I used to do this too. I would research for hours, read labels and find a good quality brand. The thing was I thought I was doing a good job supporting my body and improving my fertility. I thought I was taking the shortcut. The reality was that when I used this strategy, I took the wrong supplements, wasted money and didn’t fix my health issues.
I want to help you not make the mistakes that I made or I’ve seen countless others make since. The mistakes that everyone makes with fertility supplements and what to do instead. When you know what these mistakes are you can save time, energy and money so that you can get to the root of your fertility challenges and get pregnant faster.
Fertility Supplement Mistake #1 – Too Many
Have you ever felt like you’re taking so many supplements, that if somebody shook you, then you’d rattle? Maybe you’ve packed all your supplements in a bag to go away for the weekend and realised how many you’re on? Or perhaps your supplements are taking over a cupboard as you add more with each blog you read?
I was speaking to a woman last year who was taking +20 supplements. She’d read that one helped with womb lining, another helped with egg quality and another with egg-white cervical mucus. But she couldn’t remember why she was taking some of them and had no idea how they interacted with each other. She wasn’t aware that there could be potential problems with combining different supplements.
It’s important to be on a well thought out, customised plan of supplements, with each one serving a specific purpose that is meeting your individual needs. Check that your supplements are working together in harmony and not contraindicated together.
Fertility Supplement Mistake #2 – Not Enough
You might have been advised by your doctor to take folic acid and vitamin D to prepare for pregnancy. And your doctor might even have said that there’s no point taking anything else.
Maybe you don’t take any supplements at all because you have a good diet or maybe it’s because you think they don’t do anything? This is true for some poor quality brands.
The fact is that the food we eat today is not as nutritious as it used to be. Even if you buy locally grown organic food, it still contains fewer vitamins and minerals than the food your grandmother would have eaten. This is partly due to the way farming has changed. Research shows that between 1940 and 1990 vegetables lost 76% of their copper content, had 46% less calcium, 24% less magnesium and 27% less iron.
The National Diet and Nutritional Survey (2020) showed that women weren’t getting enough nutrients, with 74% not getting enough magnesium, 45% were deficient in zinc, 84% were lacking in folic acid and 15% were low in vitamin D.
We know that getting the right amounts of vitamins and minerals are essential for healthy egg and sperm development. And that nutrition is such a key part of a healthy pregnancy. Since most of us are deficient in nutrients, it’s important to get the right supplements to optimise fertility and not just hope a multivitamin and mineral will do the trick.
Fertility Supplement Mistake #3 – Wrong Type
The most common question in the Fertility Heroes Facebook group is “What supplement should I take?” I would love to be able to give a recommendation that would be like a magic pill – one supplement that would help everyone to get pregnant.
One of the biggest mistakes that I see people making is self-prescribing because sometimes it can do more harm. A member of the Fertility Heroes group told us that she read a book recommending DHEA for egg quality. She researched it, read how it improves egg quality and reduces miscarriage, found a good quality brand and started taking it. Six months later she said she was devasted because she found her: “AMH level was 0.5 and with tablets dropped to 0.03. Done more damage than good. I stopped taking DHEA and a few weeks later I checked my AMH again and it raised to 0.09.” This is not the only story like this.
When you’re choosing what supplements make sure you:
- Get professional help to work out what is right for your body and your fertility.
- Take bioavailable nutrients that are easy to absorb, such as taking folate instead of folic acid or magnesium citrate over magnesium oxide.
- Choose the best quality and doesn’t contain fillers (sugar, lactose, rice flour), binding agents (a supplement that is compacted together), coatings (gelatin), flow agents (magnesium stearate and magnesium silicate), additives (titanium dioxide), colours and hydrogenated oils.
Fertility Supplement Mistake #4 – Wrong Dose
Taking too many water-soluble vitamins, like C or B usually doesn’t really matter because your body will just pee out the excess. However, if you over-consume fat-based supplements, like A, D or E, then they can build up in the body and be harmful. Your body can get overloaded with certain vitamins and minerals, which causes toxicity and lead to headaches, nausea, blood clotting, irregular heartbeat and severe health problems.
That said you might not be taking enough of a particular vitamin or mineral. On supplement packets, you’ll see the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), which gives you the amount of vitamins and minerals needed to stay healthy, but you might need more than the RDA to optimise your fertility.
When we work with clients we look at their test results and prescribe exactly what they need. The dose of a particular nutrient may be higher than the RDA, but this is sometimes needed to in clients who are really deficient.
Can you see getting the exact supplements that are right for your body in the right dose saves time, energy and money?
Fertility Supplement Mistake #5 – Wrong Way
When we started working with one of our clients she had been self-prescribing and was on a variety of different supplements. We looked at what she was taking and found that she was taking some of them at the wrong time, which was stopping them from being effective. She had been taking probiotics with her meal and digestive enzymes after her meal.
If you’re not seeing a change within your body and your fertility, then you might be taking the right supplements, but at the wrong time of day or in the wrong way.
When we work with clients they get specific instructions on how and when to take their supplements to give them the maximum benefit and help them to see results much faster.
How To Avoid Making Mistakes With Fertility Supplements
Now you know the five mistakes that most people make with fertility supplements.
- Taking too many and not understanding how they interact.
- Not getting enough and being deficient.
- Taking the wrong type and it making fertility worse.
- Having the wrong dose and taking too much or not enough.
- And taking supplements in the wrong way, which stops them from working effectively.
All my best,
Rachel Bolton BSc (Hons), Lic. Ac., Lic. Tui Na.
I empower women to see themselves as Fertility Heroes and help them to optimise their fertility, get pregnant and have healthy babies.
McCance R. and Widdowson E. (1991) The Composition of Foods, 5th Edition. Royal Society of Chemistry/Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food.
Public Health England (2020). National Diet and Nutrition Survey. Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/national-diet-and-nutrition-survey