EFFECTS OF NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS ON FERTILITY: FOLIC ACID

There is now a great deal of scientific knowledge about the use of nutritional supplements and their beneficial effects on both male and female fertility. These supplements can be very effective in rebalancing your hormones, as well as improving your and your partner’s overall health – so vital for successful conception.

Folic acid deficiency is the most common vitamin deficiency in the world, partly because the body cannot store large amounts of folic acid. It really only has sufficient for one to two months so it is essential to supplement.

Of course, we now know that folic acid can prevent spina bifida and it is essential that it is in good supply before and during pregnancy. But that is not all.

Folic acid is just one of a number of  vitamins. To successfully produce the genetic materials DNA and RNA, you must have enough folic acid, together with vitamin B12. This co-dependency is common between nutrients and, because of such interactions, it is naive to think that supplementing with folic acid alone before pregnancy, as suggested by the medical profession, is enough.

You have to remember that doctors are not generally trained in nutrition. (They receive only a few lectures on the subject while they are studying if they are lucky.) By giving advice in isolation and without the necessary nutritional training, other complications can arise. For example, since folic acid and vitamin B12 are inextricably linked, it is possible to mask a B12 deficiency (pernicious anaemia), for instance, by giving folic acid alone.

A US study found that women taking a multivitamin before conception had fewer babies with a cleft lip. The immediate assumption was that it was probably the folic acid that was making the difference. But, since all the other vitamins were also being taken, it could have been any one of them that had the positive benefit. More likely, it was the combination of all the nutrients.

Recent research into heart disease suggests that folic acid and vitamin Â12 might be beneficial in controlling an amino acid called homocysteine, found in the blood, that causes damage to the lining of blood vessels. Since high levels of homocysteine are also found in women who have miscarriages, it surely follows that folic acid and vitamin B12 might be helpful to these women too.

When trying to get pregnant, you should also be aware that folic acid deficiency is common in people with chronic diarrhea or malabsorptive states such as coeliac disease and Crohn’s disease. Alcohol causes the body to excrete folic acid, and certain drugs-, such as those for epilepsy and oral contraceptives, can cause a folic acid deficiency. So, if you fall into any of the above categories, make sure you supplement with folic acid before trying to get pregnant.

You should take 400mcg a day. (You also need to take vitamin B12).

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