Hatching healthy eggs
Unlike men – who produce a regular supply of fresh sperm after puberty – women are born with all their eggs (or ova) in place. Your ovaries contain about two million eggs at birth, but as you age, they gradually disintegrate. By puberty, there’s about 750,000 left, and by age 45, only 10,000 can be left. Your fertility is dependent on the health of these eggs and your reproductive organs, plus your body’s ability to produce the right balance of hormones to ‘mature’ your eggs ready for ovulation with each monthly cycle. Getting the right mix of supporting nutrients is key to this. In this section, we identify specific vitamins, minerals and fats that can make you more fertile. However, no nutrient works in isolation. Eating a well balanced diet enhanced with supplements that boost levels of all essential nutrients is the best route to achieving good health and maximising your fertility.
Tune up your sex hormones
The mineral zinc is absolutely vital for reproductive health. Infertility, low sex drive and period problems have all been linked to inadequate levels. Together with vitamin B6, zinc affects every part of the female sexual cycle. Working in partnership, these two nutrients ensure that adequate levels of sex hormones are produced. For example, one hormone called LHRH (luteinising hormone releasing hormone) causes your pituitary gland to stimulate the development of an egg (or ovum) that causes ovulation. A deficiency in either zinc or B6 causes a deficiency in LHRH, so your fertility decreases. Adequate levels of zinc and B6 also increase your desire for sex (which is why zinc-rich oysters are called an aphrodisiac) and alleviate pre-menstrual problems – women who suffer from premenstrual syndrome (PMS) are often zinc deficient (1).
After conception, zinc and B6 ease pregnancy sickness and post natal depression, as well as increasing the chances of having a healthy baby. Oysters, lamb, nuts, egg yolks, rye and oats are all rich in zinc, while B6 is found in cauliflower, watercress, bananas and broccoli. The optimum intake is 20mg of zinc and 60mg of B6, which you can achieve with a diet that includes these foods plus a good multivitamin and mineral supplement.
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