Is there a relation between nutrition and fertility?

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Is there a relation between nutrition and fertility?

We are very aware that food is a health promoter or cause of some diseases. But, do we know if it can influence when trying to have a child? Is there a relation between nutrition and fertility? We reviewed the key points with the nutritionist Bárbara Romano and the specialist in assisted reproduction Anna Goday.

Fertility is a matter of weight

Being overweight or underweight increases the risk of infertility and makes pregnancy more difficult. This means that a body mass index (BMI) less than 18.5 or greater than 25 can influence when it comes to getting pregnant. To correct it, it is important to check what is being eaten and in what quantities. In addition, adequate and sufficient nutrition must be accompanied by physical exercise, because it helps to compensate for the energy consumed.

To increase fertility, the whole matters…

“Food is one of the environmental factors with the greatest impact both on the development of the embryo and fetus, as well as on reproductive capacity. A healthy dietary pattern, such as the Mediterranean diet, has been shown to improve the results in assisted reproductive techniques and the possibility of pregnancy”says Dr Anna Goday.

This eating pattern is considered a very favorable option to achieve and maintain good health. At the fertility level, the same thing happens. A diet rich in plant foods, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and whole grains, with olive oil as the main source of fat and that prioritizes the consumption of fish and seafood over meat, is a way to ensure all the necessary nutrients and in the right amounts.

This also includes the lifestyle that accompanies the Mediterranean diet. You have to avoid stress, ensure a good rest and sharing the table with loved ones favors mental and physical health. On the other hand, a diet based on precooked food, fast food, pastries and soft drinks –rich in salt, sugars, saturated fats and may contain trans fats– negatively affects the general health and, consequently, the fertility of those who consume it. Excess red meat and miracle diets are not advisable either as they are very limited and therefore poor in nutrients.

… and the details too!

In recent years, the effect that some specific nutrient deviations could have has gained prominence. Next, we will comment on the specific role of some of them when it comes to seeking pregnancy.


Folic acid is crucial in pregnancy and could play an important role in both natural and assisted human reproduction. During fetal development, folic acid reduces the risk of spina bifida to the future fetus. For this reason, folic acid supplementation with 400 mcg/day is recommended from the moment you want to plan a pregnancy. On the other hand, there are some studies carried out in subfertile women that suggest a favorable effect of folic acid supplementation on the results of assisted reproduction. However, these results should be interpreted with caution, as not all studies reach the same conclusion. Therefore, there is inconsistent evidence in this regard.


Due to the association of this disease with sterility, performing endometriosis screening ultrasound in an assisted reproduction clinic is of special interest. “My activity applied to the world of reproduction is gratifying and especially motivating, as it helps to better manage the woman who wants a pregnancy,” explains Dr. Ros.


Taking vitamin D supplements has not shown great effects, but it is true that it has not been evaluated in people with a deficiency of this vitamin, so it cannot be ruled out that it also influences. In summary, it is important to have an adequate vitamin D value in the blood –also for bone and immune health– but it is not specifically recommended to supplement to all women who want to have children and never without indication of a health professional, because! it can be toxic! Something that is widely described is that vitamin A is abortifacient, so it would never be advisable to take a supplement. At the food level, the only high source is the liver, so it should be avoided.


Omega 3, a type of unsaturated fat found mainly in oily fish, appears to be beneficial for fertility. But keep in mind that this fish, especially if it is large, can contain a very harmful pollutant: mercury. Therefore, it is not recommended to eat more than two or three servings per week. It is always best to look for small fish like sardines. Another way to provide Omega 3 is by eating walnuts, flax and chia seeds, soybean, flaxseed or canola oil, which contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a fat that the body can transform into Omega 3. Finally, I would like to comment that, although it seems that alcohol does not directly influence fertility, it can influence the fetus, so it would be important to eliminate its consumption, at least during this period of life.

Fertility is a matter of two

Infertility can affect both sexes and that means that this information affects both women and men. Excess weight, a poor diet and toxins such as tobacco and alcohol also influence sperm production. For this reason, if you have fertility problems, there are two who should review your health and lifestyle.

Although there are still aspects to study, it is clear that food and fertility are related and that diet is a factor that can influence pregnancy. It is in our hands to change it to a better one and thus increase the chances of becoming pregnant.

Dr Bárbara Romano. Specialist in Human Nutrition and Dietetics at Barnaclínic. Do you want to contact? You can now request a face-to-face or televisit.

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