How to Improve Egg Quality Naturally

Improving egg quality for fertility consists of increasing nutrients, reducing or eliminating environmental toxins, and addressing daily stressors. These are important steps in any preconception plan. In this article I'll be sharing how to improve egg quality naturally, including steps you can take right now.

When couples are wishing to conceive there are many areas that I feel are important to address to ensure they are doing everything possible to have a healthy pregnancy and baby. It's important for both partners to decrease environmental chemical exposure, reduce inflammation, and tackle any chronic health or hormonal problems before pregnancy.  

In this article we'll be coving improving egg quality for female fertility. If you're interested in exploring ways to improve male fertility please read this article.

As a nutritional biochemist with concurrent training in clinical nutrition, diet is always foundational in my treatment approach.

Nutrition can have a huge impact on fertility, successful uncomplicated full-term pregnancies, and healthy happy babies.  Whether you're trying to conceive naturally or undergoing IUI or IVF, what you eat sets the stage for not only your health, but babies health in utero and beyond.

The ideal time to begin preconception care is a minimum of 6 months in advance with 2 years being the ideal. I know that can be a bit of a shocker, but when you understand that the egg you will become pregnant with took 3 months to mature then you can see why we'd want a minimum of at least 6 months.

How to Improve Egg Quality:

  1. Eat foods that support healthy hormone balance
  2. Increase dietary antioxidants
  3. Reduce environmental toxins
  4. Improve stress reduction practices
  5. Consider supplements to support diet and lifestyle practices

Foods to Balance Hormones

Why would you want to balance hormones before becoming pregnant? Well, a symptom of hormone imbalance is a sign of an underlying issue. Low progesterone, high testosterone, low thyroid hormone, and insulin resistance are a few examples of imbalances that can make it more difficult to get pregnant and impact ovulation.

To Balance Hormones & Improve Fertility Eat:

  • Healthy hormone building fats
  • Nutrient dense vegetables
  • Antioxidant loaded fruits
  • Microbiome loving ferments
  • Blood sugar balancing proteins

Use my free hormone balancing meal plan & recipe guide to help you get started by downloading it here.

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, wild caught cold water fish, beef heart and liver. Fats are how you build your hormones and without them, your body will have a difficult time create the hormones you need.

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.

Foods I Tell My Patients to Eat to Boost Fertility

  • Organic eggs
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Organic, grass-fed meats
  • Sauerkraut, kim chi, and other fermented foods
  • Wild caught, cold water fish
  • Organic organ meats
  • Organic berries
  • Avocados
  • Macadamia oil, cold pressed olive oil, coconut oil and other health fats
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"My primary care doctor told me there is no reason to start a prenatal vitamin until the month I decide to try to get pregnant," my patient shared with me. Here's what I shared with her: The month you try isn't the month your body made the egg you'll conceive with. In fact, it takes about 90 days for the egg to fully mature for ovulation. So why would you wait to start a prenatal a couple of weeks before you get pregnant? When the egg is maturing it goes through phases where it is incredibly vulnerable to environmental toxins, especially when there isn't sufficient nutrients to protect it. This is where B vitamins are really important and why you need folate (not folic acid) well in advance of getting pregnant. You want to have the healthiest egg possible to meet sperm. And you want your body to be the healthiest place for baby to grow. A woman's fertility isn't just about the egg because women are both the seed and the soil. Preconception care is about creating the best version of yourself so that you not only become pregnant and have a healthy pregnancy, but you can also be the mother you've always dreamt of. Preconception care should focus on: ✨Optimizing your hormones now ✨Eating a nutrient dense diet ✨Clearing gut infections and building a healthy microbiome ✨Taking a high quality prenatal vitamin ✨Ensuring your thyroid is ready to support pregnancy ✨Making sure you've got stress reduction practices on point Here's what we started with: ❣️Prenatal Plus 3 caps twice daily (link in bio) ❣️Whole foods diet with an emphasis on loading veggies, healthy fats, and protein (you can grab the meal plan + recipes as part of the Hormone Balancing Starter Kit linked in my bio) ❣️Lab testing for her gut, thyroid, sex hormones, nutrients, and inflammation ❣️5 minutes of daily meditation + nightly journaling If you're starting your fertility journey or already on it, I can not stress enough the importance of getting your nutrients, hormones, and gut in check! 👆 Grab the free recipes + meal plan that is linked in my bio as part of the Hormone Balancing Starter Kit🎉. The steps you take today are a gift of health to your child for life! #drjolenebrighten

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Organ Meats Are Some of the Most Nutrient Dense Foods on the Planet

Liver is one of the most nutrient dense foods! It 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.

Beef heart is one of the best sources of CoQ10. CoQ10 is an antioxidant that supports egg health and is protective against free radical damage.

I know that eating organ meats might not sound appealing, but there are ways to sneak them in! For example, eating liver as a pate' or as part of a stir fry with other proteins can help you get it in. It only takes a few ounces to get the benefit.

When it comes to beef heart, I tell my patients to ask the butcher to grind 25% grass-fed beef heart with 75% grass-fed ground beef so that they can be made into burgers or meatballs.

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?

Mitochondria are the only source of energy for the egg and mitochondrial function goes down with age. As women age, their mitochondrial function diminishes and can greatly affect egg quality.

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…

The Role of Antioxidants

CoQ10

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

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 synthesized from NAC (more coming soon) and also requires selenium, which is why you'll find 200 mcg of selenium in my Prenatal Plus.

N-Acetyl Cysteine

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.

In my clinic we use 900-1800 mg of NAC starting 6 months or more prior to conception. It is important to note that NAC will give you the most wicked heartburn if you take it on an empty stomach. This a must take with food kind of supplement to avoid that.

Preconception care, including diet, lifestyle and supplement changes should be started at minimum 6 months before trying to conceive, but again 1-2 years is much more ideal.

Reduce Toxin Exposure

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

  • Tobacco
  • Alcohol
  • Stress hormones like cortisol
  • Pain relief and anti-inflammatories drugs
  • Certain prescriptions such as metformin
  • Cholesterol lowering medications
  • Anti-anxiety medication
  • Antibiotics

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. But universally, women need more antioxidant support, specific B vitamins, and many of my patients require digestive and detoxification support prior to pregnancy.

As part of this protocol we ensure every woman is taking a quality prenatal vitamin. You can read what to look for in a prenatal vitamin here.

Steps You Can Take Today

Here are 3 steps I have every patient take to improve their fertility and egg quality:

  • Prenatal Plus 3 caps twice daily
  • Whole foods diet with an emphasis on loading veggies, healthy fats, and protein (you can grab the meal plan + recipes as part of the Hormone Balancing Starter Kit)
  • 5 minutes of daily meditation + nightly journaling

To help you start eating an antioxidant rich diet, definitely grab my free recipe guide and try this bonus recipe to boost your nutrients!

Antioxidant 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.

Wishing you the best in on your fertility journey!

Dr. Jolene Brighten

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About The Author

Dr. Jolene Brighten

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Dr. Jolene Brighten, NMD, is one of the leading experts in women’s medicine and is a pioneer in her exploration of the far-reaching impact of hormonal birth control and the little known side effects that impact health in a large way. In her best selling book, Beyond the Pill, she shares her clinical protocols aimed at supporting women struggling with symptoms of hormone imbalance, including Post-Birth Control Pill Syndrome and birth control related side effects. A trained nutritional biochemist and Naturopathic Physician, Dr. Brighten is the founder and Clinic Director at Rubus Health, an integrative women’s medicine clinic. She is a member of the MindBodyGreen Collective and has been featured in prominent media outlets such as Forbes, Cosmopolitan, ABC news, and the New York Post. Read more about me here.