Effect of a 6-week “Mediterranean” dietary intervention on in vitro human embryo development: the Preconception Dietary Supplements in Assisted Reproduction double-blinded randomized controlled trial

Couples randomized to a nutrient-rich diet had higher blood levels of eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid, and vitamin D, and their embryos showed altered morphokinetic markers of development.

Volume 113, Issue 2, Pages 260–269


Alexandra J. Kermack, Ph.D., Philippa Lowen, Ph.D., Susan J. Wellstead, B.Sc., Helena L. Fisk, B.Sc., Markus Montag, Ph.D., Ying Cheong, M.D., Clive Osmond, Ph.D., Franchesca D. Houghton, D.Phil., Philip C. Calder, Ph.D., Nick S. Macklon, Ph.D.



To study the impact of increased dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and olive oil for 6 weeks before in vitro fertilization (IVF) or IVF–intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) on morphokinetic markers of early embryo development.


A double-blinded randomized controlled trial.


Academic IVF unit in the United Kingdom.


A total of 111 couples undergoing IVF or IVF-ICSI were recruited.


Fifty-five couples received the 6-week study intervention of a daily supplement drink enriched with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D plus additional olive oil and olive oil–based spread, and 56 couples received the control intervention.

Main Outcome Measure(s)

The primary end point for the study was the time taken for completion of the second cell cycle after fertilization (CC2). Secondary end points included time to complete the third and fourth cell cycles (CC3 and CC4), the synchrony of the second and third cell cycles (S2 and S3), and the day 3 and day 5 Known Implantation Data Scores (KIDScores).


There was no difference in CC2 between the two groups. However, CC4 was accelerated in the study group compared with the control group, and a significantly shortened S3 as well as an increase in KIDScore on day 3 were observed, indicating improved embryo quality in the study group.


This study demonstrates that a short period of dietary supplementation alters the rate of embryo cleavage. Further research is required to investigate the mechanisms that regulate this effect, and whether the impact on embryo development translates into improved clinical outcomes.

Clinical Trial Registration Number



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