Planning pregnancy? Here's 5 vitamins & minerals to start taking
Dietician & Nutritionist, Stefanie Vakalas, shares the 5 vitamins and minerals you should start taking in the lead up to conceiving.
The weeks and months leading up to conception can be an exciting – and often nerve-wracking –
time. As an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist, I speak to dozens of women and couples
each week who are looking for ways to support their fertility.
One thing I tell them is that the right nutrition and supplementation not only optimises the chance of
conceiving, but it also ensures you’re taking the steps needed for a healthy pregnancy and baby.
That’s a win-win.
But before we start on nutrition, it’s important to get an idea of your current health status. You can
request preconception blood work from your regular GP, allowing you to address any nutritional
deficiencies before you fall pregnant.
Every woman is different, so it can be beneficial to speak to a dietitian or healthcare professional
about a plan that’s tailored to your specific needs. However, if you’re looking to support and optimise
your fertility, you should know about these five key vitamins and minerals at an absolute minimum.
Also known as folic acid or vitamin B9, this is an essential preconception vitamin. It is recommended
by The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists) that all women take this supplement for at least one month before conception as it helps your baby grow and reduces the risk of neural tube defect like spina bifida. It’s common for women to be low in folate, which is why supplementation is often recommended. Some supplements may include folic acid, this is a pre-activated form of folic acid that is more bioavailable and easily absorbed.
This essential mineral helps to regulate your ovulation and metabolism – both important factors when you’re trying to conceive. Once you become pregnant, it also contributes to your baby’s growth and brain development.
Iron is responsible for transporting oxygen throughout the body. As your blood volume expands during pregnancy, your needs increase up to 10x the normal amount. Low iron status can take a few months to correct, so it’s best to ensure you are at optimal levels, prior to conceiving. . A common complaint of iron supplements are the side effects, such as bloating or constipation. Look for an absorbable form of iron like, iron bisglycinate – this form is more bioavailable and less likely to cause irritation. Combining iron with vitamin C, will provide optimal absorption.
4. Omega-3 fatty acids
A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids has been found to support fertility, including in older mums-to-be, according to a US study. Omega-3s – found in oily fish like salmon, trout, sardines and anchovies – are known for their anti-inflammatory benefits as well as supporting implantation. Taking a supplement, such as DHA during pregnancy will support the development of baby's eyes, brain, and nerves
Probiotics support a diverse mix of microbes and microflora in the gut. While gut health is always important, it has significant benefits in pregnancy. Specific probiotic strains, such as those found in the lactobacillus family, can help maintain healthy vaginal microflora, help balance blood sugar and support your emotions and mood.
Find out more about Folate, Iron, Iodine and Omega-3’s and Probiotics at Perdays.