Nutrition to Increase Fertility: What to Consider?

Is it possible to increase fertility by eating better? Find out here!
Nutrition to Increase Fertility: What to Consider?
Maria Patricia Pinero Corredor

Written and verified by the nutritionist Maria Patricia Pinero Corredor.

Last update: 16 January, 2023

Nutrition to increase fertility has been an important topic over the years. It’s known that poor eating habits, low consumption of certain nutrients, and ingesting toxins can affect people’s reproductive capacity.

That said, those who are interested in conceiving – both women and men – should change their diet, duly advised by a specialist. However, there are some general recommendations that everyone can apply. In the following article, we’ll take a look at examples of nutrition to increase fertility.

What is infertility?

The World Health Organization defines infertility as a disease of the reproductive system. It can be male or female, resulting in the impossibility of conceiving.

There are two degrees of infertility. Primary infertility is when pregnancy can’t be achieved, whereas secondary infertility is the inability to achieve pregnancy after a previous conception.

There can be many causes, both on the male and female sides. Environmental and lifestyle factors are known to influence this problem. Among these, nutrition plays a key role. Conditions such as being overweight, obese or underweight are frequent causes.

Another great article on the same topic: The 6 Most Common Causes of Infertility in Women

Why does nutrition affect fertility?

The physical factors that typically condition fertility are the following:

A study published in the journal Hospital Nutrition concluded that excessive intake of saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, and animal proteins can be detrimental to fertility. On the contrary, a regular intake of complex carbohydrates, fiber, monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids could be beneficial.

Regarding the abundant intake of fats and the appearance of adipose tissue that causes obesity, it can be caused by hormonal imbalance. In particular, in women, leptin increases and testosterone concentrations rise, which decreases progesterone.

The opposite occurs in men. Progesterone increases and testosterone decreases, and both hormones associated with their fertility. In turn, an additional problem occurs – insulin resistance.

When glucose cannot enter the cells, the pancreas secretes more insulin. Consequently, there’s a drop in the production of eggs, and their quality decreases. In men, the quality of spermatozoa decreases.

Nutrition to increase fertility.
The consumption of foods that are a source of omega-3, antioxidants and micronutrients has positive effects on reproductive health.

The role of micro and macronutrients

Malnutrition can also lead to infertility. This is because low weight causes problems during the ovulation process, according to research published in the Revista Colombiana de Obstetricia y Ginecología.

Micronutrient and macronutrient deficiencies, as well as a diet low in antioxidants, can be an influential factor in infertility. In this regard, a study in animals found that a high-fat diet, applied for 9 weeks, reduced sperm motility.

In fact, their reproductive capacity was compromised because they showed increased DNA fragmentation. The results also showed an increased presence of free radicals.

For this reason, the researchers concluded that a poor diet leads to oxidative stress and DNA damage. However, more research in humans is needed.

Find out more about the topic here: How Are Eating Disorders Related to Infertility?

What type of diet promotes fertility?

Carbohydrate consumption, replacement of animal proteins with vegetable proteins, and consumption of monounsaturated fats are beneficial for reproductive health. Likewise, the consumption of vitamins such as folic acid, B12, D, C, E, and A all favor fertility.

Regarding carbohydrates, it’s evident that low glycemic index carbohydrates are the most effective for this purpose. Meanwhile, research suggests that vegetable proteins decrease the risk of ovulation-related problems.

It has also been found that men with a higher serum concentration of omega-3 have better sperm quality. Omega-3 supplementation can also reduce testosterone levels and improve insulin resistance in women with polycystic ovary syndrome.

Essential micronutrients

As for vitamins, it’s known that folic acid can help prevent problems during pregnancy, but there is also evidence that it contributes to sperm quantity and quality. The same is true for vitamin B12, as indicated by some studies.

In the case of vitamin A, studies indicate the following benefits:

  • Helps synthesize sex hormones
  • Participates in the formation of sperm
  • Protects the egg and sperm from oxidative damage
  • Facilitates implantation of the fertilized egg

Vitamin D, research indicates, favors the synthesis of the reproductive hormone antimüllerian, which is used to measure female fertility, as it intervenes in ovarian reserve. In men, when deficient, it’s associated with low testosterone.

Ultimately, vitamins C and E help combat oxidation of both sperm and eggs, according to studies.

What to consider in nutrition to increase fertility?

As compiled by a study in Frontiers in Public Health, dietary intake and reproductive health are closely related. Because of this, the following recommendations should be put into practice:

  • Increase the consumption of food sources of antioxidants, such as yellow, red and purple fruits and vegetables. At least 5 servings per day or 400 grams are recommended.
  • Reinforce the intake of vitamin E and folic acid with nuts. A handful or 30 grams a day is enough.
  • Increase vegetable protein intake. About 3 or 4 weekly servings of legumes such as soybeans, beans, lentils, and chickpeas, among others. Each serving represents between 60 to 80 grams (around 3 oz) raw.
  • Consume low glycemic index carbohydrates, such as legumes and whole grains.
  • Eat 2 or 3 servings of fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna, which contain omega 3. Each serving should be around 230 grams (9 oz).
  • Consume a folic acid supplementation monitored by a specialist.
  • Eat trout, beef liver and eggs, especially the yolk, which are sources of vitamin D.
  • Reinforce with vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin A supplements, according to the indications of specialists.

Similarly, it’s recommended to reduce the consumption of trans fats, saturated fatty acids, and animal protein. Of course, always under the supervision of a health professional.

A woman with a salad.
Vegetable proteins, as well as low glycemic index carbohydrates, are associated with greater fertility.

It is possible to increase fertility through nutrition

Fertility problems have multiple origins that should be evaluated by a physician. Even so, it has been proven that nutrition plays a role for better or worse in this condition.

Therefore, it’s advisable to consult a nutritionist and implement a diet that favors hormonal balance and other factors related to reproductive health.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Brewer CJ, Balen AH. The adverse effects of obesity on conception and implantation. Reproduction 2010;140(3):347-64.
  • Santiago Brugo-Olmedo, M.D.*, Claudio Chillik, M.D., Susana Kopelman, M.D. Definición y causas de la infertilidad. Rev Colomb Obstet Ginecol vol.54 no.4 Bogotá Oct./Dec. 2003
  • Chavarro JE, Rich-Edwards JW, Rosner BA, Willett WC. Protein intake and ovulatory infertility. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2008;198(2):210.e1-210.e7
  • Panth N, Gavarkovs A, Tamez M, Mattei J. The Influence of Diet on Fertility and the Implications for Public Health Nutrition in the United States. Front Public Health. 2018 Jul 31;6:211. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2018.00211. PMID: 30109221; PMCID: PMC6079277.
  • Delimaris I, Piperakis S. The importance of nutritional factors on human male fertility: A toxicological approach. Journal of Translational Toxicology 2014;1:52-9.
  • Mendiola J, Torres-Cantero AM, Vioque J, Moreno-Grau JM, Ten J, Roca M, et al. A low intake of antioxidant nutrients is associated with poor semen quality in patients attending fertility clinics. Fertil Steril 2010;93(4):1128-33.
  • Najafipour R, Moghbelinejad S, Aleyasin A, Jalilvand A. Effect of B9 and B12 vitamin intake on semen parameters and fertility of men with MTHFR polymorphisms. Andrology 2017;5(4):704-10.
  •  Pludowski P, Holick MF, Pilz S, Wagner CL, Hollis BW, Grant WB, et al. Vitamin D effects on musculoskeletal health, immunity, autoimmunity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, fertility, pregnancy, dementia and mortality-a review of recent evidence. Autoimmun Rev 2013;12(10):976-89.
  • Bakos HW, Mitchell M, Setchell BP, Lane M. The effect of paternal diet-induced obesity on sperm function and fertilization in a mouse model. Inter J Androl 2011;34(5):402-10ieta-y-fertilidad/
  • Kinga Skoracka, Alicja Ewa Ratajczak, Anna Maria Rychter, Agnieszka Dobrowolska, Iwona Krela-Kaźmierczak, Female Fertility and the Nutritional Approach: The Most Essential Aspects, Advances in Nutrition, Volume 12, Issue 6, November 2021, Pages 2372–2386,

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.