If you’re planning to become pregnant, then you already know that you need to take a daily prenatal vitamin that contains key nutrients like folic acid to support a healthy pregnancy.
But how do you know which fertility supplements are a good choice…
And which ones are just junk?
Before you head to the vitamin shop or read endless reviews on Amazon, it’s important to make sure that the pills you are popping check a few key boxes. So, keep reading to discover some of our top tips when perusing the supplement aisle at your local wellness store.
We know it goes without saying, but quality is crucial when choosing fertility supplements.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not routinely evaluate whether supplements are safe, effective, or meet their label claim before they make it to the shelf. They do, however, require supplement manufacturers to adhere to Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP). These are intended to ensure quality and safety. However, compliance is not always enforced. So, we must do our part to ensure what we choose comes from a trusted source.
Finding a company that is third-party tested ensures accurate labeling, packaging, holding, and manufacturing processes. This is to prevent contamination and impurities from being in the final product. Third-party testing is not required and companies that do so, do so voluntarily.
Third-Party testing companies that you may see on the side of some supplement bottles include the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the United States Pharmacopeia (USP). Some great tools to personally check your own fertility supplements include LabDoor and Consumer Labs.
The term “other ingredients” used on supplement labels is a nebulous term that can mean a lot of things – some safe, and some not-so-great. “Other ingredients” can mean ingredients like fillers, binders, or bulking agents that were added and provide no nutritional value.
Filler ingredients are often easy to spot. Seeing ingredients like magnesium stearate, propylene glycol, vegetable gum, starch, and silicon dioxide are all fillers and are not doing much for you in the nutrition department.
Bottom line, stay away from supplements that choose to use fillers and choose to purchase from brands that are committed to pure, high-quality ingredients.
Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants come in various forms. Some are better absorbed by the human body than others. Unfortunately, the less-absorbable forms are often cheaper to use.
When you’re investing in a new supplement – like a daily prenatal multivitamin – it is worthwhile to make sure that you get the ideal form of certain nutrients to get the most bang for your buck (and up the chances that it’ll help you get pregnant and have a healthy pregnancy too!).
CoQ10 is an antioxidant that helps reduce free radicals in both men and women alike. It’s particularly popular among women facing fertility treatments (e.g., IVF), especially those with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and diminished ovarian reserve (DOR).
The biologically active form of CoQ10 is ubiquinol. It’s believed to have better absorption than ubiquinone, the typical form found in most fertility supplements. As a result, dosing with ubiquinol is usually less than ubiquinone.
Better known for its role in supporting bone health, vitamin D has also been shown to have an important role in regulating reproductive health too. And even though we can make vitamin D from sunlight exposure, it’s a vitamin we typically don’t have adequate levels. Thus, it’s best to choose a form that’s easily absorbed. Most physicians recommend taking vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) instead of D2 when possible.
We often see magnesium oxide added to fertility vitamins. However, it is not as well absorbed as other forms. Instead, choose a source containing magnesium citrate or magnesium glycinate.
When we take folic acid (vitamin B-9), our body needs to convert it into the active form known as methylfolate. Activation occurs with the help of an enzyme known as methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR). Some women have mutations in their MTHFR gene making this activation step difficult.
Given all the buzz around MTHFR, many women struggling with infertility will simply choose to take “activated folate”. However, as we discuss in our post all about folic acid, the routine use of methylated folate is somewhat controversial. If you have concerns about which form of folic acid you should take, it’s best to ask your doctor if you should get tested.
Iron comes in many different forms. Ferrous salts are the best-absorbed iron supplements and they are often considered the standard compared with other iron salts. Look for fertility supplements containing:
As we’ve mentioned before, calcium can interfere with the absorption of iron, while vitamin C can promote absorption.
Before taking an iron supplement, you should find out if you’re iron deficient, which can be determined via a simple blood test at your doctor’s office. Too much iron may cause liver disease, abdominal pain, joint pain, heart attack, and an increased risk for diabetes.
Bottom line, make sure to get tested!
Curious About The Essential Nutrients To Boost Your Fertility?
Discover The Power Of Fertility Superfoods TODAY!
The “more is better” approach isn’t always the case when it comes to nutrient supplementation for female fertility (or male fertility for that matter!). In fact, you can get into serious trouble if you are overdoing it in some cases.
Conversely, many over-the-counter supplements contain popular nutrients, but they are often at insufficient levels to offer any significant benefit. This is often the case with the folic acid and iron in your daily prenatal vitamin.
Pay attention to nutrient doses when selecting your supplement, and don’t be afraid to ask your healthcare provider for guidance.
In some cases, it might be a good idea to get your vitamin levels checked. Vitamin D and iron are two potential nutrients worth testing. Women with heavy menstrual cycles are often at risk of being iron deficient. And as you already know, the more time we spend indoors, the greater the risk for vitamin D deficiency.
Just a friendly reminder to track the total dose across ALL your supplements, including your daily prenatal vitamin.
Combining your prenatal vitamin with other supplements can give you WAY too high of a dose of certain nutrients. Again, more is not always better.
Note that certain nutrients may be “healthy” for general health, but come with some risk if taken in too high of an amount during pregnancy. For example, high doses of preformed vitamin A (not beta carotene forms like retinyl palmitate) can be harmful to a developing fetus.
It is important to check with your medical provider before adding supplements to your daily routine. Not only should you share which supplement you are interested in taking with your doctor, but you should also ask if there are potential interactions.
For example, calcium supplements may reduce your absorption of iron. Alternatively, vitamin E may increase the risk of bleeding if one is on blood-thinning medications.
There’s no magic bullet to getting pregnant and giving birth to a healthy baby. Any promises that you see on a label should be taken with a grain of salt. And even though the FDA requires health claims to be medically reviewed by scientific evidence, this requirement is commonly ignored.
Just a reminder that not all supplements have been studied and are safe in pregnancy. If you were taking certain supplements while trying to conceive, you should review them with your doctor once you get pregnant. It’s critical to make sure that you’re not causing any potential harm to yourself (or your future baby) by popping an extra pill or two.
Choosing the right dietary supplements goes beyond simply making sure that the pill you are popping contains the nutrients you are hoping for. Ensuring that the supplement you use is third party tested, contains optimal ingredients, and is safe without adverse side effects is just as important as paying attention to nutrients.
Whenever you’re ready… join us and other women trying to conceive who have successfully taken steps to naturally optimize their fertility with fertility-boosting superfoods.
Always evidence-based. Always actionable.
And just like a good doctor’s visit, your privacy is protectedDon't worry, you can always unsubscribe with just one click.
Welcome to the tribe!
You’ve joined the OvulifeMD community. Don’t forget to check your inbox for a special welcome email.
If you have any questions, we will be happy to answer them.
Thanks for sharing what's on your mind!
Check the thread for more insight and support.
Imperfections are NOT inadequacies; they are reminders that we're all in this together
Get more out of your efforts to conceive with evidence-based updates sent to your inbox on the regular.
You've successfully joined the OvulifeMD community! We're honored to be on this journey with you. Don't forget to check your inbox for a special welcome email from our team.