The best prenatal vitamins for women and how to take them to boost your fertility
- The best prenatal
vitaminsfor women include coenzyme Q10, melatonin, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and folic acid.
- Prenatal vitamins — or a multivitamin that contains multiple vitamins — are a common and effective supplement to improve fertility and help you get pregnant.
- To take prenatal vitamins, it's important to talk with your doctor about the appropriate dosage and ingredients for your
Whether you're trying to get pregnant for the first time or you've been trying for a while, a prenatal multivitamin is standard care. Some specific vitamins may be a worthwhile option to further explore, says Jennifer Hirshfeld-Cytron, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist with Fertility Centers of Illinois.
Both genders see age-related declines in fertility by age 30. This makes infertility a common issue, affecting up to one-third of couples trying to conceive.For people trying to get pregnant, the Mayo Clinic advises that women of reproductive age should start taking prenatal vitamins daily - even before they start trying to conceive.
What are the best prenatal vitamins and supplements?
Many of the recommended prenatal vitamins and supplements contain antioxidants as one of the main ingredients. This is because research suggests that antioxidants combat oxidative stress which may be linked to female infertility. However, it's important to note that more research is needed to determine if antioxidants actually boost fertility.Hirshfeld-Cytron suggests these common prenatal vitamins and supplements to help increase female fertility:
Coenzyme Q10. This is an over-the-counter (OTC) antioxidant that Hirshfeld-Cytron says can improve the quality of eggs. In theory, better egg quality is associated with less risk of genetic abnormalities, such as too few or too many chromosomes, which can cause trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome), Turner Syndrome, and other conditions. Coenzyme Q10 may also reduce cellular damage and boost energy production in cells."I would recommend holding to start this supplement until a physician sees you to confirm issues around egg quality," Hirshfeld-Cytron says. If you can take it, she suggests 200 mg, three times a day with food. Melatonin. This is a hormone with antioxidant activity that can be found as an OTC supplement. A 2012 review suggests the hormone helps promote fertilization by reducing cellular damage inside the ovaries.
Hirshfeld-Cytron says this may be particularly important for female night-shift workers whose schedule disrupts their circadian rhythm - an internal clock regulated by melatonin. She recommends 3 mg each evening, as melatonin also helps to promote sleep.
Omega-3 fatty acids. Commonly found in fish and flaxseed, omega-3 fatty acids can aid hormone production. Hirshfeld-Cytron says they may also help to produce higher quality eggs and better reproductive functioning as you age."Elevated levels of omega-3 have shown to improve embryo development and baseline estrogen levels," she says. Estrogen helps to thicken the uterine lining to prepare the body for pregnancy. Hirshfeld-Cytrom recommends 1200-1500 mg EPA + DHA daily, but not to exceed 3000 mg/day.
Vitamin D. Your body produces this fat-soluble vitamin when it's exposed to sunlight. You can also get vitamin D through certain foods and as a supplement. It helps to control the genes involved in producing estrogen, as well as embryo implantation.
"Most of us are Vitamin D deficient. I strongly recommend adding at least 1000 IU, which can be found in some prenatal vitamins," says Hirshfeld-Cytron. There is no need to take additional vitamin D along with a multivitamin unless directed by your doctor.Folic acid. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), folic acid is a B vitamin that all women of reproductive age should take because of its ability to produce new cells, such as for nails, hair, and skin. When taken as a supplement, a 2015 study found it increased the likelihood of pregnancy.
Prenatal vitamin tips
Hirshfeld-Cytron says that an all-inclusive prenatal vitamin or multivitamin "should contain folic acid, calcium, and iron, and ideally also have vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, zinc, and copper. These are a must if you are trying to conceive."If prenatal vitamins in pill form cause an upset stomach, you can try liquid supplements or chewables. However, when choosing gummies, it's important to have extra supplementation as they may lack iron.
When taking your prenatal vitamin, it's best to have it with a full glass of water. For better absorption, Hirshfeld-Cytron says to take prenatal vitamins with a meal. Speak with your physician if you are having issues with nausea or constipation.Hirshfeld-Cytron also says it doesn't make much difference if vitamins are prescribed or not. "The nutrients in over the counter and prescription prenatal vitamins are similar. In some cases, prescription prenatal vitamins may be easier on the stomach," she says.
When should people see a doctor about fertility?Typically, your OB-GYN will administer the first round of fertility tests. Women attempting to conceive for more than one year, or more than 6 months if age 35 or older, may choose to undergo an evaluation by a fertility specialist. Fertility tests can include checking reproductive hormone levels along with:
- Ovulation testing: A blood test to determine whether ovulation is happening normally and regularly.
- Ovarian reserve testing: Tests that check anti-müllerian hormone (AMH) levels and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) look at the number of eggs available for potential fertilization.
- Imaging tests:
Beyond aging, female fertility is affected by a range of conditions such as endocrine disorders, endometriosis, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). People with untreated gonorrhea or chlamydia are at risk of pelvic inflammatory disease, which may block fallopian tubes.
Taking prenatal vitamins can potentially improve egg quality and the antioxidant activity may boost fertility. Overall, Hirshfeld-Cytron recommends a variety of prenatal vitamins to increase your chance of fertility success. She says including prenatal vitamins, particularly a multivitamin that includes vitamin D and folic acid, to your health regimen is a critical proactive measure when seeking to boost your fertility.
Insider Reviews best overall prenatal vitamin pick
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