Fertility Supplements & Vitamins: An Evidence Based Review
We discuss various nutrients and dietary supplements in this article that may or may not be helpful. If you purchase recommended products, services, or treatments, it may benefit CNY Fertility financially. Read more about our financial relationships here. The supplements discussed in this article are not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, take any medications, or have been diagnosed with a medical condition, consult with a healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement.
Sperm and egg cells take approximately 90 days to develop before they can be ejaculated or ovulated. The development of each is a highly complex and energy-dependent process that is supported by and requires a diverse array of micronutrients.
Sure, a fertility-friendly diet, eliminating smoking, minimizing alcohol, and engaging in fertility-friendly exercise can be a great place for everyone to start when trying to conceive, but fertility-specific supplements may help you fill in nutritional gaps and provide other nutrients that are difficult to get through diet alone.
This article will cover everything you need to know about the micronutrients recommended to support sperm/egg quality and overall male and female fertility. We’ll cover vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs, ayurvedic medicine, biomolecules, and other unique nutrients, along with some products we have developed through our own brand of supplements, Molecular Fertility.
What are Fertility Supplements?
Quite simply, fertility supplements are pills, capsules, softgels, or liquid dietary supplements that are sold over the counter without a prescription and contain specific nutrients designed to support the quality of eggs, sperm, or other aspects of reproductive health. Fertility supplements can contain vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs, antioxidants, whole foods, biomolecules, and other nutrients.
Micronutrients are essential for many reproductive processes, and a growing number of studies have shown many of the nutrients discussed in this article to support:
- sperm count
- sperm motility
- sperm DNA integrity
- sperm morphology
- egg quality and maturation
- menstrual cycles and ovulatory health
- immune health
- energy production (which is important for egg and sperm production)
- pregnancy rates
While a tremendous amount of research has been done in the area of micronutrients and fertility, it’s important to remember that each person is different, and there is still much to learn about the role various micronutrients play in fertility.
Who Should Take Fertility Vitamins?
Men and women looking to support or improve their sperm, egg, ovulatory, or general reproductive health should consider taking fertility supplements.
Men can use fertility vitamins and supplements to support the health of sperm count, motility, morphology, testosterone levels, and to help support overall health.
For women, fertility supplements can help to support healthy egg quality, ovarian reserve, ovarian health, endometrial lining development, immune system health, and overall health.
Women are also often recommended to take a prenatal and fish oil throughout the duration of pregnancy and lactation.
Remember, each person is different and supplements can interfere with prescription medications so it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider prior to beginning a new dietary supplement.
Similarly, it’s important to keep in mind that not all fertility supplements (or supplements in general) are made equal. While the FDA does play an important role in the regulation of dietary supplements, they’re not looked at with the same level of scrutiny or held to the same purity standards as manufactured drugs.
Be sure you do your research, speak with a healthcare professional if you take any medications or have known medical conditions, and use a trusted brand/manufacturer when selecting the right supplements for you.
When Should you Take Fertility Supplements?
CoQ10: One of the Most Important Fertility Supplement
Coenzyme Q10 is a biomolecule naturally produced by the human body. It functions as a potent antioxidant and also helps generate cellular energy. Though produced by the body, levels generally start to decline in the 30s.
A 2019 study of 65 men showed that supplementing with Co-Q10 improved sperm count and motility.
|Measurement||Before 200 mg||After 200 mg||Before 400 mg||After 400 mg|
|Progressive motility (%)||16.54||22.58||14.22||26.1|
|Total motility (%)||25.68||29.96||23.46||34.82|
|Normal morphology (%)||22.17||23.64||24.64||27.41|
While different dosages had a different level of effect, both groups saw statistically significant improvement in many measures of sperm health.
A 2015 study looking at female reproductive health showed that suboptimal levels of CoQ10 were associated with decreased numbers of oocytes and other age-associated factors known to impact fertility. The study also produced evidence that supplementing Co-Q10 can improve oocyte quantity and quality.
In this study, women who supplemented with 600mg of CoQ10 for 3 months had improved fertilization rates (67% vs. 45%) and a live birth rate of 29% vs. 16%.
|Measurement||600 mg CoQ10||Control group|
|Cumulative live birth rate||28.95||15.54|
Summary: CoQ10 for Fertility
CoQ10 is considered one of the most important fertility supplements. For men, it may help improve sperm count, motility, and overall male reproductive health. For women, it may improve egg quality, fertilization rates, pregnancy rates, live birth rates, and overall female fertility.
Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin for Fertility
Vitamin D, unlike most other vitamins, is a prohormone meaning it is a precursor to other hormones. And despite its name, Vitamin D isn’t technically a vitamin for humans because we are capable of synthesizing it.
Despite your body being able to synthesize Vitamin D, sun exposure often does not provide adequate vitamin D levels, which is a problem because only a small number of foods contain a significant amount.
This could be bad news for your reproductive health as both vitamin D receptors and vitamin D converting enzymes are found in male and female reproductive tissues. In fact, mice that lack the genes to produce these vitamin D receptors have significantly smaller testes and ovaries, reduced sperm count and motility, and other abnormalities of the testis, ovary, and uterus.
One study analyzing 188 women found pregnancy rates to be 4 times higher in women that had adequate vitamin D levels compared to those who were vitamin D deficient and a 2009 study found that each ng/mL increase in blood vitamin D levels increased the likelihood of achieving pregnancy by 6%.
|Variable||Deficient and no vitamin D supplementation||Normal vitamin D, no supplementation necessary||Deficient before, normal after vitamin D supplementation||Deficient before and after vitamin D supplementation|
|Pregnancy Rate||19.3% (11/57)||65.2% (15/23)||66.7% (38/57)||23.5% (16/68)|
Fortunately, vitamin D supplementation may help. A 2018 study showed that compared to a placebo-controlled group, couples in which the men supplemented with Vitamin D had nearly double the pregnancy rate; 35.6% vs 18.3%.
Summary: Vitamin D Supplementation for FertilityVitamin D deficiency is incredibly common, affecting roughly 40% of the population. Natural levels and supplementation have been positively associated with increased pregnancy rates, sperm motility, and more.
Omega 3’s/Fish Oil
It is well documented that fertility is influenced by the immune system and that omega 3s have important immune-supporting properties. It makes sense then that one way Omega 3 supplementation could help support fertility is through its role in immune health.
Many people know that omega 3s during pregnancy support maternal health and fetal neural development, but omega supplementation may also play an important role in supporting healthy reproductive function in males and females.
Omega 3 supplementation also appears to be beneficial for male fertility.
Summary: Omega 3s and Fish Oil Supplementation for FertilityFor females, fish Oil supplementation may help improve egg quality, delay ovarian aging, improve pregnancy rates, and support healthy fetal and infant development. For males, omega 3 supplementation may improve sperm count, motility, and morphology.
Inositol: One of the Most Important Fertility Supplements
Inositol is a type of sugar molecule. But don’t let that association fool you into thinking inositol is at all like high fructose corn syrup or even glucose for that matter. Inositol is involved in chemical messaging in the brain, contributes to cell membrane structures, participates in insulin signaling, glucose metabolism, and hormone production.
Inositol supplementation has been demonstrated to improve the management of blood glucose levels, insulin sensitivity, and to reduce insulin resistance. One study showed myo-inositol supplementation decrease insulin resistance by approximately 70%.
In one relatively small study, 88% of women who supplemented with inositol had at least one spontaneous menstrual cycle during the study, 72% of participants maintained normal ovulatory activity for 6 months, and 40% developed singleton pregnancies. Another slightly larger study found that over a 6 month period of inositol supplementation for fertility, 45.5% of patients become pregnant during the study period.
In one of the studies mentioned above, the fertilization rate, a measure of egg quality was looked at. Those supplementing with inositol saw a nearly 20% improvement in fertilization, 58.3%, compared to 42.6% for the control group.
All of this was further supported by a meta-analysis reviewing most major inositol for fertility studies which concluded inositol supplementation for fertility was associated with significantly improved clinical pregnancy rates.
Inositol for FertilityWhile some data is inconclusive, many studies have shown inositol to support normal, health, and regular ovulation as well as egg quality for females. Some research also shows it may support healthy sperm and male fertility.
Ashwagandha: An Important Male Fertility Supplement
Ashwagandha is a plant native to India. It has been used for thousands of years in traditional Ayurvedic medicine but is gaining popularity as a fertility supplement as studies have demonstrated its ability to improve key male fertility parameters. While there are some accounts of it being used for female fertility, research predominately supports its use as a male fertility supplement.
In one placebo-controlled study, men who took ashwagandha for 90 days saw an increase a number of key fertility measures.
Ashwagandha appears to exert its powers as a fertility supplement through a variety of mechanisms including its effect on reactive oxygen species, supporting healthy stress levels, hormone levels, and seminal essential metal concentrations.
One study showed that Ashwagandha reduced serum cortisol levels by 27.9%. Cortisol is the key stress hormone and a biomarker of stress. And if you’re not convinced by biology, those in this same study scored significantly lower (44%, 72.9, and 71.6%, to be exact) on three independent stress and anxiety scales. Many other studies have backed these results.
Ashwagandha for FertilityAshwaganda has been shown to support healthy sperm count, motility, and other aspects of male fertility.
PQQ Supplementation for Fertility
Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) is a redox cofactor and antioxidant that has only recently made waves in the fertility supplement world. This vitamin-like compound has been shown to induce mitochondrial biogenesis. In other words, it was shown to stimulate the growth of new mitochondria. Mitochondria, as mentioned above, are the cellular powerhouse where nutrients are turned into a form of energy cells can use.
PQQ, as a redox cofactor, is also a powerful antioxidant.
As you may recall, both eggs and sperm take a lot of energy to grow, maintain, and in sperm’s case, swim. On top of that, as humans age, they become less efficient in creating cellular energy. Male and female gametes are also highly sensitive to oxidative stress.
All of this supports the idea that when PQQ supplementation is combined with CoQ10 it can help to further optimize cellular energy generation. CoQ10 optimizes mitochondrial function; PQQ activates genes for mitochondrial reproduction, protection, and repair.
PQQ for FertilityThere aren’t any clinical studies looking specifically at PQQ for fertility, but the theoretical framework is there and many fertility specialists have already started recommending PQQ alongside CoQ10 as a Batman and Robin type pair for egg and sperm mitochondrial health, energy production, and quality.
Folate and folic acid are different forms of vitamin B-9. While they are similar, Folate is the natural version that is found in foods, the active form of which is 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF).
Folic acid, on the other hand, is a synthetic form of the nutrient and is often used to fortify processed foods and in some generic supplements. As you may suspect, not all folic acid you consume can be converted into that active 5-MTHF which may be a problem.
It has been demonstrated that when taken during pregnancy folate can significantly reduce the chance of fetal neural tube defects, including spina bifida and anencephaly. Folate supplementation may also support other aspects of fetal neurodevelopment and maternal health during pregnancy.
For all these reasons it’s important that mothers have adequate folate blood levels at the time of conception. It is therefore recommended that women planning to get pregnant start taking folate at least one month before conception and that they continue to take it throughout pregnancy
But the news doesn’t stop there for this famous pregnancy vitamin. Studies have begun to show that folate doesn’t just help with fetal and maternal health once pregnant, it may help support fertility.
For Female Fertility
In some studies, folate has also been shown to support the fertility of men. Folate is known to work with zinc in the production of sperm DNA. However, the results of some studies are conflicting.
Folate for FertilityFolate is well known to support healthy maternal health and fetal development during pregnancy. It has also been shown to support egg quality and female fertility as well as male fertility.
Vitamin C for Male Fertility
In one small study, men who took 2000 mg of Vitamin C daily for two months showed an increase in sperm count and motility.
After two months of Vitamin C supplementation, sperm counts more than doubled.
In the same study, the % of motile sperm nearly doubled from 31.2% motility to 60.1%.
Many fruits have vitamin C that could support healthy sperm count and motility, but they are also loaded with sugar which could be fertility damaging. For that reason, supplementation may be viewed as a superior way to increase vitamin C levels when compared to consuming pounds of fruit each day.
Vitamin C for FertilityAntioxidants like Vitamin C may help support healthy sperm count, motility, and morphology.
Choline for Pregnancy
Choline is an essential nutrient that is vital for many body functions. Choline supports cell growth, metabolism, liver, and muscle function. The body naturally produces choline, but the majority comes from diet. Surprisingly, according to one study, 91% of Americans don’t meet the daily recommended intake for Choline . . . and requirements are even higher during pregnancy.
Furthermore, OBGYNs and fertility specialists alike are increasingly recognizing the importance of ensuring adequate levels of choline during pregnancy. Research has shown that choline may support fetal tissue expansion, brain development, neurotransmission, and overall pregnancy outcomes during pregnancy.
Choline for PregnancyWhile there aren’t any studies showing it improves sperm or egg quality, the fact remains that it’s one of the most important nutrients to start taking before pregnancy to ensure sufficient blood/tissue levels at the time of conception due to its role in early-stage fetal development.
Carnitine can be consumed as a supplement in one of many forms: Carnitine, Acetyl L Carnitine, L-Carnitine-L-Tartrate.
Carnitine for Males
Carnitine for Females
Carnitine for FertilityCarnitine may help support sperm motility and other aspects of male fertility as well as some areas of female fertility.
Shilajit for Male Fertility
Shilajit is a natural substance with a tar-like texture. It has been used in ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years as a dietary supplement, and recently, for male fertility.
It is reported to improve a few important aspects of male fertility, including sperm count and motility. One study noted a 61% increase in sperm count and a 12-17% increase in sperm motility after taking Shilajit as a fertility supplement for 90 days.
Shilajit may be able to support male fertility further by working synergistically with CoQ10. One study showed ATP (cellular energy currency) levels to be the highest in rats given both CoQ10 and Shilajit.
Shilajit for FertilityThere is some evidence that Shilajit can support male reproductive health, but given the very limited evidence, no resounding conclusions can be made until further research is conducted.
Zinc is an essential mineral that is naturally found in meat, fish, and eggs. Getting appropriate levels of Zinc is considered essential for male fertility as zinc works alongside folate in the synthesis of spermatic DNA.
Zinc and FertilityThere is evidence to suggest Zinc is important in sperm development, but so far studies have failed to come to a resounding conclusion on the effect of Zinc supplementation.
Lycopene is a naturally occurring molecule that gives many fruits their red color and possesses antioxidant properties.
It is also a common dietary supplement and one that has shown promise as a fertility supplement.
One study from 2002 showed that 4 mg of lycopene supplementation for three months improved men’s sperm counts by 22 million/ml, motility by 25%, and morphology by 10% from baseline to after supplementation.
Lycopene for FertilityLycopene supplementation for 3 months or more has been shown to improve sperm count, motility, and morphology. Little to no studies have been done on lycopene for female fertility.
In one 2011 study of over 600 men, selenium combined with vitamin E supplementation significantly improved several sperm measurements. 52.6% of participants saw improvements in sperm motility, morphology, or both, and 10.8% achieved spontaneous pregnancy.
Selenium for FertilitySelenium has been shown to support male fertility and a healthy pregnancy.
B12: Another Important Fertility Vitamin
Vitamin B-12 is a nutrient that is involved in the metabolism of every cell in the human body. Vitamin B-12 helps make DNA and also keeps nerve and blood cells healthy.
Fertility specialists agree that vitamin B-12 plays an important role in sperm development, as it does with all cells. Research has shown that vitamin B-12 can help improve semen quality, particularly sperm count and sperm motility.
For women, vitamin B12 may also be quite important.
ALA Supplementation for Fertility
Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is a compound that is found in all human cells. It is made in the mitochondria, where it helps turn nutrients into cellular energy. As we know, growing and maintaining healthy eggs and sperm are highly energy-dependent processes.
One study published in Fertility and Sterility found that supplementing with 400 mg ALA for 60-90 days increased the numbers of mature and good-quality eggs and embryos women produced. Pregnancy rates were also higher for women who took ALA supplements compared to the control group, though the difference didn’t reach a statistically significant level.
A 2021 systematic review of studies that looked at ALA supplementation for fertility concluded that ALA is beneficial for male and female fertility. Specifically, the review supported the idea that ALA improves fertilization, embryo development, sperm quality, and reproductive outcomes.
Iodine is a mineral that can be found in seafood or as a dietary supplement. It is an essential element of thyroid hormones, and it helps to control cell growth, repair damaged cells, and metabolism.
During early pregnancy, the fetus is dependent on the mother’s thyroid hormones for normal brain development. If thyroid production is affected by low iodine levels, then normal fetal brain development can be disturbed. Research has shown that taking iodine supplements can help to combat iodine deficiency in pregnant women. Iodine deficiency is common in the US population, especially pregnant women.
Iodine may also contribute to female fertility. In one study, women with low Iodine levels were observed to have a 46% lower chance of achieving pregnancy per menstrual cycle compared to women with sufficient levels.
Iron is an essential mineral for growth, development, and the production of hormones. Iron is used to make hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to organs and tissues throughout the body, and myoglobin, a protein that provides oxygen to muscles.
Vitamin A is vital for normal vision, immune system health, and reproduction. Vitamin A also supports many parts of the body like the heart, lungs, and other organs.
Vitamin E for Fertility
As discussed throughout this article, reactive oxygen species can disrupt a number of reproductive processes and may negatively affect fertilization and embryo implantation, early embryonic development, and more.
Antioxidants like vitamin E protect against reactive oxygen species and have been associated with improved female fertility outcomes and pregnancy health. In fact, Vitamin E was discovered as a vitamin necessary for reproduction.
Vitamin E is also recognized to have positive effects on several different sperm parameters and overall male fertility. Recent studies have shown an increase in sperm motility for men who take vitamin E supplements. Additional research supports the protective and beneficial effects of vitamin E on semen quality. Fertility specialists advocate for the use of vitamin E supplementation for general male fertility improvement.
CNY Fertility Supplement Recommendations
As you can see there are many vitamins and nutrients that have been demonstrated to support fertility healthy.
To help provide a trusted and simplified solution, our team of specialists developed our own line of fertility supplements called Molecular Fertility.
In general, we recommend females take:
For males, we recommend taking:
The Best Fertility Supplements for Women
Peak Prenatal was designed to provide the nutritional foundations of female reproductive health fertility and support to mom and baby pre, during, and post-pregnancy.
We recommend the Peak Prenatal be taken starting 90 days prior to conception and taken through pregnancy and lactation.
The Ovarian Bloom is formulated to help support preconception, ovulatory, and egg health. Ovarian Bloom is composed of the following ingredients:
- Vitamin D
- Ovarian Glandulars
VivoMega™ Fish Oil
Molecular Fertility’s VIVOMEGA™ FISH OIL is different than any ordinary fish oil. One serving delivers 6 times the omega 3s found in typical over-the-counter fish oil supplements. VIVOMEGA™ FISH OIL surpasses international standards for purity, freshness, and oxidation and is in the natural TG form for optimal absorption and efficacy.
It’s a bit pricier than your typical fish oil, but as mentioned, it’s 6 times the strength, so it may actually be more affordable on a per mg of omega 3 bases.
Best Male Fertility Supplements
The Male Preconception was designed to provide the nutrients that are foundations of male fertility and to help support sperm count, morphology, and motility. It contains:
- Vitamin A, C, D, and E
- Vitamin B12
The Male Preconception+ provides a similar foundation as the standard Male Preconception but also includes many other ingredients to take it one step further. The ingredients included in Male Preconception are the same as the above (though some in slightly higher doses) as well as:
- D-Aspartic Acid
- Pomegranate fruit extract
- Green Tea Leaf Extract
VivoMega Fish Oil
As mentioned above, fish oil is important for supporting sperm health and male fertility. We recommend the same fish oil for men as women, Molecular Fertility’s VivoMega.
The Bottom Line
Fertility is affected by many lifestyle factors and may be helped by implementing specific changes to diet, supplement regimens, and more. Many studies have shown that both male and female fertility is affected by micronutrient deficiencies and that it can be supported through supplementation.
At CNY Fertility, we recommend fertility supplements to help support sperm and egg health and the health of mom and baby during pregnancy. Our fertility specialists comprising of Board Certified Reproductive Endocrinologists, recommend those looking for a reliable fertility supplement turn to Molecular Fertility.