What Should Women Consume When Trying to Conceive
Folic acid is important for germ cell production and pregnancy. The recommended daily dose to prevent neural tube defects is 400-800 mg. Women who take folic acid-containing multivitamins are less likely to be anovulatory, and the time t achieve a pregnancy is reduced. Those who consume more than 800 mg of folic acid daily are more likely to conceive with assisted reproductive technology (ART) than those whose daily intake is less than 400 mg.
Vitamin D may affect fertility through receptors found in the ovaries and endometrium. An extremely low vitamin D level (<20 ng/mL) is associated with higher risk for spontaneous miscarriage risk. Some reports suggest that women with adequate vitamin D levels (> 30 ng/mL) are more likely to conceive after ART when compared with those whose vitamin D levels are insufficient (20-30 ng/mL), or deficient (< 20 ng/mL). These findings, however, are inconclusive.
Dietary carbohydrates affect glucose homeostasis and insulin sensitivity, and by these mechanisms can affect reproduction. The impact is most pronounced among women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). In women with PCOS, a reduction in glycemic load improves insulin sensitivity as well as ovulatory function. Whole grains have antioxidant effects and also improve insulin sensitivity, thereby positively influencing reproduction.
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids lower the risk for endometriosis. Increased levels of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are associated with higher clinical pregnancy and live birth rates.
Protein and Dairy
Some reports suggest that dairy protein intake lowers ovarian reserve. Other reports suggest improved ART outcomes with increased dairy intake. Meat, fish, and dairy products, however, can also serve as vehicles for environmental contamination that may adversely affect the embryo. Fish, on the other hand, has been shown to exert positive effects on fertility.
In general, a Mediterranean diet is favored (high intake of fruits, vegetables, fish, chicken, and olive oil) among women diagnosed with infertility.