Nutrition for Preconception Health

Women with healthy bodies have an easier time becoming pregnant – and what we eat directly affects our health! If you're hoping to conceive, it's best to make sure that you're providing your body with the healthy foundation it needs right from the get-go.

What Does a Healthy Diet Look Like?

It's difficult to know what healthy food looks like in America these days – between low-carb fads and raw foods diets, “healthy” fast food and the rising trend of obesity, many women may not know where to start! However, most physicians and health professionals agree that a healthy diet is composed of whole, unprocessed foods. Asparagus, whole wheat bread, yogurt, and apples? Check. Li'l Debbie's snack cakes? Not a chance! Stock your pantry with fresh, unprocessed ingredients, and try to cook at home as often as possible.

Fertility Factors

Certain nutrients can be especially helpful when it comes to fertility. Zinc, found in shellfish such as oysters, plays an especially key role in the maintenance of a healthy reproductive system for both men and women. A zinc deficiency can inhibit fertility, so make sure you're getting your 15 mg a day! Calcium and folate are also important parts of nutrition for preconception health. Dairy products contain a great deal of calcium, but leafy green vegetable contain the nutrient as well, and are also a good source of folic acid.

Supplements and Vitamins


Women who have eaten a processed, unhealthy diet for most of their lives may wish to begin taking a nutritional supplement in addition to any dietary changes implemented. Some deficiencies are harder to remedy than others, especially when it comes to nutrients like iron and potassium – the average American eats a woefully potassium deficient diet, and women in particular are prone to iron deficiency as a result of monthly blood loss. The American Pregnancy Association recommends NatalSure for women who wish to conceive.

The Benefits of Whole Foods

Whole foods are one of the best gifts you can give to your body, whether you are pregnant or not. Think of a healthy diet as additional maternity insurance! Prepackaged and processed supermarket foods are full of salt, added sugars, and chemical components which are designed to make these products taste better, but do absolutely nothing in terms of nutrition and health. Whenever possible, unprocessed food should be the food you choose.

What to Avoid

For optimal health, especially in terms of fertility, it is best to avoid added sugars, carbonated soft drinks and processed foods, alcohol, and caffeine in excess of 100 mg per day. This is equal to about 1-2 8 oz cups of regular coffee; however, keep in mind that chocolate contains caffeine as well! If you are considering pregnancy, it may be wise to switch to decaf coffee, as pregnant women must avoid caffeine as well.

With good nutritional guidelines and a bit of common sense, nutrition for pre-conception health should look a lot like any normal, healthy diet – so toss out those convenience foods and get cooking!

Article on Nutrition for Preconception Health

What Should You Eat to Increase Fertility?

In all reality, there are not studies supporting particular food to improve your ability to conceive. Taking zinc is the only exception. Zinc is related to both male and female fertility. You should seek to take the recommended dietary allowance of 15mg of zinc every day. Many multivitamins can help with this. Oysters also have high levels of zinc. Additionally, you want to maintain a well-balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and dairy products keeping your body nutritionally fit to provide the optimum reproductive functioning.

What Nutritional Steps Should You Take for Preconception Health?

Ideally you already have healthy eating habits. If not, you should seek to create healthy eating habits at least three to six months before trying to conceive. Healthy nutrition is shown to be related to fertility for both men and women. Here is a list of suggestions for healthy nutrition prior to conception:

Folic Acid:

The U.S. Public Health Service recommends that women of childbearing age obtain 400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) of folate or folic acid each day. This B vitamin helps reduce a baby's risk of neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida. If your family has a history of neural tube defects, your doctor may increase your daily intake. Folic acid may be obtained naturally through dark green leafy vegetables (i.e. spinach), citrus fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and fortified breads and cereals. These foods can be supplemented with a prenatal vitamin which usually contains 800mcg of folic acid. Folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin allowing your body to flush out excess amounts.


It is recommended that women get at least 1,000 mgs (three 8 oz glasses of skim milk) of calcium a day if they are considering getting pregnant. Calcium may be obtained from natural sources such as cottage cheese, low-fat yogurt, canned salmon, sardines, rice, and cheese.

Supplements & Vitamins:

In addition to a healthy diet, many healthcare providers will encourage supplements to increase the probability that you get all the nutrients you need.


It is important to wean yourself off of caffeine (including chocolate), because research has shown that more than 300 milligrams of caffeine per day may reduce fertility by 27 percent. Caffeine also impedes upon the body's ability to absorb iron and calcium.


Artificial sweeteners, alcohol, recreational drugs, and cigarettes all have the potential of harming your soon to be conceived baby.