Vitamins and supplements to increase fertility
Given the quality of our food these days and the reduced mineral content in our soil, it is apparently more difficult than 50 years ago to get the needed vitamins and minerals entirely from our food, even if selecting fresh, organic produce.
Popping a multitude of high quality vitamins each morning (and some in the evening) will either nudge me in the right direction towards getting pregnant, or mean that I'm throwing my valuable pennies down the drain on pills that only result in very expensive wee. It's a gamble that I am more than willing to take.
Which vitamins are needed, how frequently and in what quantities for increased fertility is a hugely complex area. I followed the supplement advice in the Better Baby Book, by Dr Lana Asprey, which is fully researched and referenced. Dr Lana suffered from PCOS and was told that she would struggle to conceive. After following her evidence based regime she was able to fall pregnant naturally, twice, in her late 30s. If it is good enough for Dr Lana, it is good enough for me.
The recommendations for the brands of vitamins also come from Dr Lana and her husband and biohacker Dave Asprey, of Bulletproof coffee fame (more on their recommendations can be found on the Bulletproof website). Listening to Dave Asprey on the podcast Bulletproof Radio he is clearly obsessed with the quality of the products that he consumes and the research of its impact on the body. As I trust their recommendations, and have no other guiding principles for the best vitamins to take, I am following their advice to the letter.
Here are the vitamins I take....
Adding up the cost of my vitamin regime (this makes me question why I don't have more interesting things to do with my time, do I need another hobby?) I have established that I spend £1.58 a day on vitamins, which equates to £49 per month. I force my husband to take vitamins too. Not 'force' in the same way as the production of foie gras, more on an emotional and intellectual level. So really, we spend £100 on vitamins a month. That's a lot, but not more than our monthly alcohol bill used to be before trying to conceive.
To help to lengthen my luteal phase
The ones that had the most impact on lengthening my luteal phase (I started with these vitamins in June 2016 and my luteal phase lengthened over the next few months despite not taking any other vitamins at the time) are:
Folinic Acid (not folic acid)
Folinic acid (also known as methylated folate or 5-MTHF) is a more bio available form of folic acid. It is really important to take folinic acid in place of folic acid if you have the MTHFR gene defect that makes it difficult for your body to convert folic acid into a usable form (more information on this on the Natural Fertility Info website).
I have no idea whether I have this gene defect as I've never been tested, but given that it could affect 40-60% of the population I will happily pay the extra not to take the chance.
Dave (I'm referring to Dave Asprey my vitamin guru) warns against taking folinic acid without also supplementing with B-12. Dave says: high amounts of folate without adequate B12 can cause neurological conditions. Blimey, that's a thought that festers, provided I maintain enough neurological function for thoughts of course.
These flavoured suckable tablets taste pretty good and take the edge off my morning breath before I get around to cleaning my teeth. Be warned, they do a little bit squidgy and deformed if stored outside of their container (I think due to mixing with oxygen) so they seem to be best stored in the packing they arrive in.
These bad boys are pretty big, so if you struggle swallowing large tablets you may be in trouble. There is research to show that increasing your intake of vitamin C can lengthen your luteal phase (more info on this here) but I didn't have much luck until I switched to these high quality tablets.
For all of 2015 I was taking cheap Vitamin C tablets that you dissolve in water and turns your wee florescent. It did nothing for my luteal phase and I dread to think what chemicals it may have contained. But it did make visiting the bathroom quite an adventure as I used to pretend that I was a superhero ridding myself of radioactive waste.
These tablets have helped to lengthen my luteal phase and I take one in the morning, one in the evening - religiously.
Other vitamins and supplements that I also take, following the bullet proof recommendations are:
Most of our vitamin D comes from sunlight and it is difficult to get sufficient vitamin D from food, especially in the autumn and winter. The NHS advise that adults and children over the age of one should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10mcg of vitamin D, particularly during autumn and winter.
I take one tablet of 5,000 IU ((which converts to approximately 125mcg) every other day. The NHS don't recommend taking more than 100mcg a day so an alternative could be taking Jarrow's 2,500 IU soft gels once a day.
I decided on Green Pastures after plenty of research on the benefits of fermented cod liver oil (such as on the Weston A Price Foundation website), learning about the production process and researching the best, natural high quality brands (including this highly detailed article comparing the two brands to which I'd narrowed it down). All this only to find out that Bulletproof's Dave Asprey already recommends this brand, and I could have saved myself the trouble.
Cod liver oil can induce fishy burps (be warned!), but there is hardly any fishy taste when taking these Green Pasture tablets. I toyed with the idea of the liquid format that you have a teaspoon of daily, as I considered that it may be more effective, but just the thought of it made me gag.
I keep my Green Pastures in the fridge, the only supplements that I chill.
This little bottle remained untouched in my pantry for a few months before I felt comfortable about how much to use and how to take it (orally or on the skin). The best summary of the uses, benefits and potential cautions with using iodine is provided on the Weston A Price website.
Rather than taking iodine orally, with a drop diluted into a large glass of water as suggested in the Better Baby Book, I have taken the more cautious approach of absorbing it through my skin. Although the absorption of the iodine is slower and less efficient, your body apparently only absorbs what it needs, providing some comfort that I won't overdose. I paint a small (about 2cm square) dark orange patch on my abdomen each night before bed. It has always disappeared by morning, suggesting that my body is deficient in iodine. Although the effectiveness of the iodine patch test in determining deficiency is also disputed, so I am doing my best to tread an effective line between the myriad of online voices shouting about iodine.
Further supplements that I take that are separate to the Bulletproof recommendations are:
Optibac undertakes its own research and creates its probiotics based on evidence, which I respect (here is the research on Optibacs For Every Day probiotics). There are super strength daily probiotics also available which previously took when my digestion was very poorly. I have since graduated on to the more normal probiotics, the ones taken by people who are health conscious but don't necessarily dash to the loo every morning at 6:00 am clutching their tummy's.
It is possible to take magnesium orally (as suggested by Dave Asprey) but I chose to absorb it through my skin, which I do each night before going to sleep. The magnesium can sometimes give me a cool tingling sensation, like being tickled by a snowman (I would imagine).