Thanks to a recent study linking Vitamin D intake with more positive outcomes for women undergoing IVF, you can expect to see more fertility experts adding supplementation to their treatment protocol.
Previous studies have also shown a correlation between IVF success and sufficient Vitamin D levels however, the most recent study involved a much higher group of participants, and showed that women with adequate levels of Vitamin D were twice as likely to become pregnant. While studies are still ongoing, researchers believe that in addition to stimulating progesterone and estrogen which can regulate menstruation, Vitamin D also appears to positively influence embryo quality and may increase the chances of successful implantation by supporting the lining of the uterus.
A Vitamin D deficiency can contribute a number of diseases including diabetes, MS, osteoporosis, rickets, cancer and cardiovascular disease but it’s only in recent years that science has begun to take a closer look at its role in reproductive health. Vitamin D is one of the few vitamins that the body produces the majority of on its own however it needs sunlight in order to do so. Known as the “sunshine vitamin”, researchers have noted that women living in colder climates experience more difficulty conceiving during the winter months which further supports D’s link to fertility. It is recommended that we all get 10 to 20 minutes of unprotected sun exposure per day and this could be especially crucial for those trying to conceive. If cold weather or other factors prevent you from getting outside to soak up the sun, a multivitamin containing Vitamin D can help. You can also get your Vitamin D through diet by eating eggs, tuna, yogurt, and fortified food sources like milk, orange juice and cereals.
Those trying to conceive will want to stock up on other vitamins as well since D isn’t the only one that plays a supporting role in fertility. If baby making is on your agenda, you and your partner should consider supplementation as there are several vitamins and minerals which can positively impact reproductive health in both men and women. We’ve listed some of the most important ones below:
Vitamin B12 – Beneficial for both partners, B12 is thought to boost sperm production and improve its quality. In addition to helping regulate ovulation, it may also help fertilization and implantation by supporting the lining of the uterus.
Vitamin C – C can boost progesterone and balance hormones to regulate ovulation. It is also a powerful antioxidant which can protect the integrity of sperm.
Vitamin E – Vitamin E is thought to improve sperm motility as well as the consistency of cervical mucus; both of which can help sperm travel successfully thereby improving the chances of conception.
Iron – A lack of iron can lead to irregular periods and may even halt ovulation altogether in some. Insufficient stores have also been linked to poor egg quality.
Zinc – Zinc stabilizes hormone levels and maintains follicular fluid in the fallopian tubes helping eggs travel. Zinc deficiency has also been linked to early miscarriage and a low sperm count in men.
Folic Acid – Folic acid can help prevent early stage birth defects like spina bifida perhaps making this the most important supplement for pre-conception. Men also benefit from folic acid supplementation as it can improve both the quality and volume of sperm.
The human body is a well designed and extremely intricate system that carries us through life from start to finish. Caring for it properly and ensuring your nutritional needs are met will assist it in performing all of the functions it was designed for, and conception is no different.
If you would like to read more on this subject, see our post on preparing your body for conception, and the importance of prenatal vitamins before and during pregnancy. We wish you the best of luck as you start your journey in to parenthood!
With summer under our belts, the time has come to iron the uniforms, ready the back packs and send our kids to school (unless of course, you homeschool). It is that time of year when parents breathe a sigh of relief while simultaneously battling the feeling of dread that comes with sending our children off, away from our care. One of the many worries on a mother’s list of concerns is germs.
Like it or not, schools and daycare centers are overflowing with bacteria and are essentially cold and flu bugs waiting to happen. As any Mom with more than one child can attest to, the minute one of your children comes home with a stuffy nose or complains of a sore throat, you will teeter back and forth between concern for their well-being and panic over the fact that it won’t be long before your other little ones succumb to the virus. Caring for one sick child is hard enough, but life can quickly become nightmarish when a bug spreads to the rest of your family.
While keeping our youngsters away from bacteria entirely is unrealistic, there are some precautions you can take to minimize the effects of the germs your children are exposed to. Today’s post outlines four simple steps you and your family can take to decrease the likelihood of your kids becoming ill.
The best way to prevent the spread of germs is by washing our hands. Germs are everywhere so it’s highly unlikely that your child will avoid coming in to contact with them. Everything they touch, especially in the classroom and on the playground, is coated with bacteria. Unless your child is regularly washing their hands, they are bound to fall victim to the same bug that took down little Susie last week. Hand washing is especially important before lunch and snack times as this prevents the spread to your child’s food and their subsequent consumption. Talk about a fast-track to illness! Get your children in to the habit of washing their hands with warm water and soap. Encourage them to work up a good lather, wash the top and bottom of hands as well as under and around the finger nails. In order to successfully remove germs, hand washing should be done for the length of time it takes to sing the alphabet song twice. If you or your children aren’t able to get to a sink, sanitizer is the next best thing. Keep a small bottle tucked away in their back pack. Show them where it is and teach them how to use it. Like hand washing, sanitizer should also be used on the top of the hands, bottom and around the finger nails.
Since germs are everywhere, you can contain their spread by disinfecting the surfaces they sit on. Counter tops, door handles, tables, chairs, handrails, toilet levers, and faucets should all be disinfected regularly, and even more frequently during cold and flu season. Don’t be afraid to ask your child’s teacher if they have a plan to contain or prevent the spread of germs in the classroom. Since many schools have budget restrictions, you might be surprised to learn that there is no plan at all. If this is the case in your school district, you could offer to supply the classroom with disinfectant wipes which are great for this exact purpose. If you don’t want to absorb the cost for this all on your own, you can always ask other parents to contribute to, or share the expense. You’ll probably find that most are willing to chip in since no parent enjoys caring for a sick child.
Not Sharing is Caring
This next bit of advice might confuse your children, especially since most parents preach at their kids about the importance of sharing. However, when it comes to cold and flu season, all bets are off. Not only is sharing not recommended, it is condemned. When your child accepts food from the dirty germ-covered hand of one of their friends, or takes a drink from a communal straw, bottle or sippy cup, they are essentially ingesting all of the germs that you have worked so hard at coaching them to wash off. Let them know that the snacks packed in their own lunch boxes are provided for them and that these are the only ones they should be eating.
Support Healthy Immune Systems
You can support your child’s immune function by ensuring they are eating a healthy balanced diet, and getting adequate sleep. Studies have shown a drop in T-cells when we are sleep deprived. This can compromise the function of the immune system and leave us susceptible to colds and flu. Children between the ages of 3 and 12 should be getting 10 – 12 hours of sleep per day.
There are no two ways about it, Mommies are superheroes. We care for our families through sickness and health; often when we are run-down ourselves. However, it’s important for superheros to take care of themselves too. Get enough rest (when possible- we know the life of a busy mom doesn’t always allow time for sleep) and taking a multivitamin for women will fill in the nutritional gaps when our diet is lacking.
Most of the above tips are no-brainers and you’ll find a little common sense can go a long way in helping to prevent the spread of germs and keep your family healthy.
Wishing you and your kiddos a healthy school year!
The Promise Prenatal Team
“Antioxidant” seems to be the hottest buzzword in the health industry today. It’s front and center on vitamins and supplements, and even shows up on the labels of our personal care products. From hair care to skin creams, marketing departments have clearly begun to recognize the selling power of the term, so we thought we’d break down exactly what they are, and why we need them.
In a nutshell, antioxidants counteract the body’s oxidation process which produces cell damaging free radicals. Free radicals are extremely unstable molecules with an odd number of electrons that can alter the structure of your cells permanently damaging your DNA. Because these electrons are unpaired, they travel through the body looking to buddy-up by stealing electrons leading to a chain of biochemical events which create more free radicals. Free radical / cellular damage has been linked to premature aging of the skin, muscles and other organs, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and several other forms of illness.
If you’ve ever watched an apple turn brown after it’s been sliced and left to sit out, you are already familiar with oxidation. This same process occurs within the body every day yet the environment we live in can add even more to our oxidation load. The sun’s UV rays, air pollution and cigarette smoke can all cause further oxidative stress. While our bodies are capable of defending against some of this, it could always benefit from some extra help and this is where the power of antioxidants comes in. Antioxidants have the ability to stabilize free radicals thereby preventing their ability to cause disease promoting cellular damage.
Studies have shown a decreased rate of heart disease, cancer, and muscular degeneration in people with higher antioxidant intake which may well be why the term has become the buzzword it has. Now, even though you may see it plastered across bags, boxes and bottles, it’s important to note in combination with vitamins, your diet remains the most effective way to get your fill of disease fighting antioxidants. Eating the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day is a good start as they tend to have the highest content.
Beta-Carotene / Vitamin A, Manganese, Selenium, Zinc and Vitamins C and E are all powerful antioxidants which can act as a shield and help prevent the damage caused by harmful free radicals. We’ve listed some foods below to help you get started on increasing your intake.
Beta Carotene – mangoes, sweet potatoes, squash and carrots
Manganese – pecans, oats, pine nuts, brown rice, flax seeds, pineapple
Selenium – Brazil nuts, quinoa, cottage cheese, chicken
Zinc – Pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts, cashews, wheat germ
Vitamin C – Strawberries, oranges, kiwis, spinach, broccoli
Vitamin E – Kale, Spinach, pine nuts, chick peas, lentils chick peas, vegetable and sunflower oils.
There is no way to prevent oxidation, or stop free radicals from forming, but you can certainly take steps to help prevent the amount of damage they can do. If it’s antioxidants you’re after, a healthy diet in addition to your prenatal vitamins, is the way to go.