According to statistics from the National Women’s Health Information Center, infertility affects approximately 10 percent of American women between the ages of 15 and 44. Infertility can be caused by several different factors in both men and women, including damage to the reproductive system, age and lifestyle issues. British nutritionist and recognized women’s health expert Marilyn Glenville notes 30 percent of infertility issues are due to unexplained factors and she believes natural treatments, including adding specific vitamins to the diet may help to increase fertility.
The National Institutes of Health’s Medline Plus report on zinc states “zinc is necessary for the functioning of more than 300 different enzymes” and is vital for a large number of processes in the body, including the maturation of sperm and the healthy fetal development. Several studies, such as “Effects of zinc supplementation on sexual behavior of male rats” published in the July 2009 "Journal of Human Reproductive Sciences," seem to indicate that zinc levels may affect testosterone levels and penile function in men as well as sperm count. Researchers at Northwestern University recently published findings in the September 2010 issue of "Nature Chemical Biology" that suggest eggs with insufficient zinc levels do not reach the maturation stage that allows them to be fertilized.
Vitamin C is a water soluble antioxidant which is vital to the body’s production of collagen, the protein used to create connective tissues and blood vessels. Vitamin C also aids in the maintaining healthy bones and teeth, and healing wounds in the body. Some research shows that Vitamin C levels may affect sperm count, sperm motility, and healthy formation. Researchers from the University of Mazandaran in Iran published findings in the September 2009 "Journal of Clinical Biochemical Nutrition" indicating infertile men had significantly lower levels of vitamin c in their seminal plasma as compared to fertile men. This research seems to support earlier findings in published in 2006 by researchers from the University of California at Berkeley which linked antioxidant intake, including both vitamin C and vitamin E, with seminal quality.
B-complex is a term that refers to the family of B vitamins that include folate, riboflavin, B-12, and biotin. B-complex vitamins are water soluble vitamins that are essential for the healthy development and function of the nervous system as well as for most of the body’s metabolic processes. Research from the Harvard School of Public Health, published in the March 2008 issue of "Fertility and Sterility," suggests that regular use of a multivitamin supplement containing B vitamins decreases the risk of infertility due to ovulation problems. Although folate has the most clinical evidence supporting its importance in fertility, conception, and healthy pregnancies, Glenville notes that the whole family of B-vitamins work together to support RNA and DNA development and she encourages women to supplement with the full range for best results.
- Womenshealth.gov: Infertility
- PubMed.gov: Use of multivitamins, intake of B vitamins, and risk of ovulatory infertility
- Pubmed.gov: Ascorbic Acid in human seminal plasma: determination and its relationship to sperm quality.
- Pubmed.gov: Effects of zinc supplementation on sexual behavior of male rats
- MedlinePlus: Zinc