When couples are wishing to conceive there are many areas that I like to address to ensure they are doing everything possible to have a healthy pregnancy and baby. Some of the things I might discuss relate to decreasing environmental chemical exposure, reducing inflammation, or tackling chronic health problems before pregnancy.
One of my main areas of focus is always nutrition. I see food and specific nutrients having a huge impact on fertility, successful uncomplicated full-term pregnancies, and healthy happy babies. Ideally, women come to me at least 6 months before conception and that is a great time to discuss the foods and nutrients that are ideal for creating healthy eggs and sperm and setting the stage for a healthy pregnancy.
Several months ago I attended an integrative fertility conference and I was pleased to see that several lecturers discussed some of my favorite foods and supplements for egg health. I focus a lot of my clinical work on preconception care, with nutrition being one of the focal points of treatment.
Best foods to improve egg quality
Many women are often surprised to hear that some of the most ideal foods for women wishing to conceive are eggs, grass fed butter, fish oil, and liver.
Liver is one of my favorite preconception foods as it is one of the most nutrient dense foods one can find, is a concentrated source of vitamin A, abundant in B vitamins including B12 and folate, and an excellent source of iron and trace minerals. All of these are incredibly important nutrients for egg health and needed for baby’s development.
The importance of healthy fats cannot be understated!
For one thing, we need fats, especially cholesterol to make hormones. Your fertility and pregnancy require a particular balance of hormones and fats help supply the body with building blocks for hormones.
Quality of fats is important. You can read more about which fats are best here.
Healthy fats impact fertilization.
A newly fertilized egg traveling down the fallopian tube begins to scan its environment for the nutrients available. It does this to determine how safe it would be to implant in the uterus and if the there is adequate nutrition to grow in that environment. If these healthy fats and nutrients aren’t present it could lead to altered implantation and growth of the embryo.
To improve egg quality support the mitochondria
When I am working with a woman on improving egg quality my treatments are heavily focused on supporting the mitochondria.
Why support the mitochondria?
One of the main roles of mitochondria is the production of ATP, which is the main source of energy for all of our cells. It also controls intracellular pH, which improves fertilization of the egg.
And it is responsible for spindle formation. I won’t go into too much biology, but briefly, spindles are responsible for helping equally divide chromosomes in a parent cell. This is hugely important, as it is the main reason doctors are so worried about Down’s syndrome and other chromosomal disorders that can occur in the offspring of women over 35. If chromosomes don’t separate correctly, these genetic disorders could be the result. Older women have less mitochondria per egg so it is more difficult to do all the tasks required of it, including proper chromosomal separation.
Some of the most important nutrients for mitochondrial health are…
- B vitamins
- Fish oil and other health fats
- N-Acetyl Cysteine
- Alpha Lipoic Acid
The Role of Antioxidants
CoQ10 is one of the most effective nutrients in preconception because of its ability to protect the mitochondria from oxidative stress.
The best form to take is ubiquinol and the recommended dosage is 300 mg daily. Higher doses should be taken with other forms of CoQ10.
Glutathione is another antioxidant that provides protection to the mitochondria and therefore, protects egg health. It is also a cofactor for many antioxidant and detoxification systems throughout the body, which helps you eliminate toxins and give baby the best environment.
Glutathione can be administered IV or liposomal versions can be taken orally 1-2 hours away from food.
Taking its precursor N-Acetyl cysteine or NAC, as well as eating sulfur rich foods can boost glutathione as well. As a side, NAC can also improve insulin resistance and balance hormones.
Preconception care, including diet, lifestyle and supplement changes should be started at minimum 3 months before conception, but ideally 6 months before.
In addition to taking supplements that improve mitochondrial function women and men should do their best to reduce exposure to mitochondrial toxins.
Top Mitochondrial Toxins
- Stress hormones like cortisol
- Pain relief and anti-inflammatories drugs
- Certain prescriptions such as metformin
- Cholesterol lowering medications
- Anti-anxiety medication
Improve Egg Quality in 90 Days
Your egg takes 90 days to mature, which means it will take at least 90 days of a focused preconceptional protocol in order for you to make significant changes in your egg quality.
I create a custom lifestyle, nutrition and supplementation plan for each of my patients based on their body’s needs. For example, some women need more antioxidant support, others require specific B vitamins, and many of my patients require digestive and detoxification support prior to pregnancy.
As easy as it would be to just give every woman the same protocol, I have many women who come to me after having tried the “best protocols” out there. My approach to improving egg quality is focused on the unique needs of the women in order to create the healthiest egg and pregnancy.
If you are interested in learning more about optimizing egg quality or preparing for pregnancy, you can learn more about how to work with me today.
And until we chat…
Keep eating a diet rich in antioxidants, like this antioxidant rich smoothie.
- 1 large handful dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, chard, spring mix)
- 1 cup berries of choice
- 2 TBSP pumpkin seeds
- ½ an avocado
- 1 lime, skin cut off
- 1 cup or more of almond, coconut, hemp, rice or other milk
- Optional: handful of ice cubes
Blend until creamy and enjoy
Using food based medicine, along with targeted nutritional supplementation and lifestyle medicine, I’ve helped many couples succeed in becoming pregnant and creating an amazing pregnancy experience.