Diet and female fertility: doctor, what should I eat?

Women trying to achieve pregnancy are encouraged to increase consumption of whole grains, omega-3 fatty acids, fish, and soy, to reduce consumption of trans fats, and to take folic acid supplements.

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Volume 110, Issue 4, Pages 560–569


Yu-Han Chiu, M.D., Sc.D., Jorge E. Chavarro, M.D., ScD, Irene Souter, M.D.


Fecundity is the capacity to produce offspring. Identifying dietary factors that influence human fecundity is of major clinical and public health significance. This review focuses on the evidence from epidemiologic literature for the relationships between key nutritional factors and female reproductive potential. According to existing data, women trying to achieve pregnancy are encouraged to increase consumption of whole grains, omega-3 fatty acids, fish, and soy and to reduce consumption of trans fats and red meat. In addition, a daily multivitamin that contains folic acid before and during pregnancy may not only prevent birth defects, but also improve the chance of achieving and maintaining a pregnancy. In contrast, there is limited evidence supporting an association between vitamin D and human fecundity outcomes despite promising evidence from nonhuman studies. Questions for future research included the roles of other types of fat (especially omega-6 and monounsaturated fats) and protein (especially white meat and seafood) on female fertility; particular attention should also be paid to exposure to environmental contaminants in foods. Although much work remains, this review accrued best available evidence to provide practical dietary recommendations for women trying to conceive.

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Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders. The journal publishes juried original scientific articles in clinical and laboratory research relevant to reproductive endocrinology, urology, andrology, physiology, immunology, genetics, contraception, and menopause. Fertility and Sterility® encourages and supports meaningful basic and clinical research, and facilitates and promotes excellence in professional education, in the field of reproductive medicine.