With the colder conditions of the winter months possibly improving sperm quality and boosting male fertility, and couples spending more time together through the long winter nights, December is often referred to as the most fertile month of the year, with more babies being conceived in December than in any other month of the year. With this in mind, we thought we’d let you know about all the fantastic festive fertility fayre that is so nutritious it can only help to boost fertility! We recommend that everyone eats as wide a variety of colourful, organic and unprocessed food as possible during the Christmas break. So, go all out and enjoy the Christmas festivities!
Many people enjoy turkey for lunch at Christmas – and for good reason too, it’s a low fat, lean protein with many nutritional benefits for fertility.
Turkey contains an abundance of vitamin B6, which is helpful in balancing out hormone levels. B6 is thought to assist in correcting any low progesterone levels in women, helping them maintain a healthier balance of hormones. It is important to get enough of this important vitamin when trying to conceive and during early pregnancy, as hormone levels that are out of balance affect fertility and can also be a contributing cause for miscarriage.
Turkey is also an excellent source of iron, selenium and zinc. Iron improves egg health in women. Egg health is critical to helping higher fertility rates and is closely monitored during infertility treatment. Iron is also important for a healthy and receptive endometrial lining in the uterus to help facilitate implantation.
Turkey is rich in selenium. Selenium is an antioxidant that helps protect the eggs and sperm from free radicals, which may cause chromosomal damage that can cause sperm damage and birth defects. Selenium is also important for sperm formation. Men with low sperm counts may benefit from the addition of more selenium in their diets.
Zinc is necessary in women for the cells to divide properly, keeping oestrogen and progesterone levels balanced and the reproductive system functioning properly. For men, zinc is one of the most necessary nutrients for fertility. Zinc helps boosts sperm levels and improves the shape, motility and chromosomal quality of male sperm.
A fabulous alternative to turkey on Christmas day, Salmon contains a magic nutrient when it comes to fertility … Selenium. This mineral produces antioxidants that protect both egg and sperm from free radicals. It can help prevent chromosomal damage, which is known to cause birth defects and miscarriages. Try and buy good quality, organic, wild salmon wherever possible.
Sprouts may not be everyone’s favourite vegetable, but they are packed with properties that boost fertility, a main one being folic acid. Folic acid is important at it helps to increase sperm levels and helps increase the chance of a healthy pregnancy by preventing miscarriage and birth defects.
Filled with carotenoids that give carrots their colour, this vegetable is ideal for boosting conception chances. Research has found that carotenoids improve sperm quality and quantity, and help sperm swim towards an egg, improving sperm performance by up to eight per cent.
Potatoes are a good source of vitamin C, but they are also carbohydrate rich – so why not combine with some sweet potatoes to get an extra boost of vitamin A, vitamin b, vitamin C and beta carotene, whilst reducing the carbohydrate load that comes with white potatoes.
Why not enjoy some peas with your Christmas meal this year. Peas are an excellent source of zinc. Increasing zinc levels in infertile men has been shown to boost sperm levels by improving the morphology, motility and quality of male sperm. For women a lack of zinc can lead to an imbalance of oestrogen and progesterone, so improving your zinc levels can help to balance hormones which will help towards boosting fertility.
Delicious roasted or grilled, and teamed with egg or popped in a salad, asparagus contains lots of vital reproductive nutrients that are important for couples trying to conceive. It’s so easy to add into your daily meals – and well worth doing, too. Asparagus contains vitamins A, B, C and E and is filled with folic acid. It’s also packed full of iron, calcium, zinc, selenium and potassium.
Parsnips are a very good source of the antioxidant vitamin C but they also rich in many B complex groups of vitamins such as folic acid (important in preventing neural tube defects), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, and pantothenic acid as well as vitamin K and vitamin E. Parsnips are rich in sulphur which is the needed to create the essential amino acids cysteine and methionine – essential in the formation of enzymes, detoxification and in supporting the immune system.
Dark leafy vegetables
Dark leafy vegetables are packed with minerals, antioxidants and vitamins essential to healthy fertility, including Iron, folic acid, B6, vitamin E. Examples of dark leafy green vegetables are spinach, swiss chard, kale, and collards.
Make some fresh cranberry sauce this Christmas. Cranberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, a very good source of manganese and a good source of vitamin K and E. The antioxidant level in cranberries is thought to be higher than the antioxidant levels found in most fruit and vegetables including: apples, raspberries, strawberries, broccoli, cherries and red grapes. Cranberries boost fertility as they help cleanse the urinary tract, including the kidneys. Strong, healthy kidneys are important in order to be able to conceive. Cranberries help prevent bacteria from sticking to the bladder and kidneys.
Seeds and nuts
Make the most of the variety of seeds and nuts that are available to snack on, or incorporate into recipes, over the Christmas break. Pumpkin, flax, hemp, chia, sunflower and sesame seeds contain some of the most important fertility nutrients, including omega 3, zinc, vitamin E and iron.. As for nuts, they are packed with four of the most important nutrients proteins, omega 3, zinc and vitamin E. Walnuts and almonds contain L-arginine which has been shown to increase sperm health Peanuts contain particularly high levels of zinc. Chestnuts and walnuts are excellent at boosting sperm quality as they are very good sources of the antioxidant vitamin C, whilst Brazil nuts are an excellent source of selenium.
Making sure that any chocolate you eat over Christmas is high in cocoa levels (no less than 70%) will help you to be sure that you’ve boosted your levels of antioxidants! Dark chocolate is packed with potassium, zinc, iron and selenium. It also contains the amino acid arginine which has been linked to an increase in sperm quality and semen volume and is also filled with antioxidants, which defend against free radicals and toxins linked to male infertility. But remember, it’s only okay to eat around a 1oz square daily and perhaps try eating it with a handful of dried fruits and nuts to boost your antioxidants even further.
Add some beetroot! Beetroot can have the benefit of increasing blood flow to the muscles. It also contains nitric oxide, which dilates blood vessels, allowing a rich supply of oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood to flow to the uterus and ovaries
The magic nutrient in citrus fruits is Vitamin C. A study in which infertile men were given 1,000mg of vitamin C twice daily (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17004914), found that their sperm count and motility (their ability to move properly towards an egg) were improved. The vitamin is also said to improve hormone balance in women.
Pomegranates are in season from October through to February, which luckily for us is right over the festive season, so why not try eating more of this delicious fruit. Pomegranates are an excellent source of flavonoids and polyphenols. They are also thought to contain antioxidant, anti viral and anti tumor properties.
They are a good source of fibre, vitamin C, vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), folic acid and they also contain vitamin A and vitamin E. Pomegranates are thought to improve and help balance oestrogen and progesterone levels in women. There are currently trials taking place by the National Institute of Health into the effect of pomegranates/juice on male infertility. Pomegranates/juice consumption may help improve sperm quality and erectile dysfunction (Journal of Urology 2005).
Try and include some eggs into your Christmas recipes this year. Add them to salads or enjoy them poached on whole grain granary toast with avocado for breakfast. Eggs are an excellent source of choline, a very good source of iodine, selenium, molybedum, vitamin B12, vitamin B2 and biotin. They are a good source of protein, iron, phosphorus, vitamin D, vitamin A and vitamin B5. A recent study by Yale University took vitamin D measurements from 67 infertile women and found that only 7% of them had normal vitamin D levels, while the other 93% had either insufficient of clinical deficiency. They also found that none of the patients with PCOS had normal vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D and fertility
A systematic review: Elisabeth Lerchbaum⇓ and Barbara R Obermayer-Pietsch http://www.eje-online.org/content/early/2012/01/24/EJE-11-0984.abstract?sid=51cb625d-faa6-4807-99f0-96562fffaf82
Replete vitamin D stores predict reproductive success following IVF
Sebiha Ozkan, MD,1 Sangita Jindal, PhD.,2 Keri Greenseid, MD,2 Jun Shu, MD,3 Gohar Zeitlian, MD,2 Cheryl Hickmon, BS,2 and Lubna Pal, MBBS, MRCOG, MSc2,4 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2888852/