Iron Consumption and Fertility

The results of a Harvard University study released in 2006 showed that women who took extra iron reduced their chances of developing infertility. This is exciting news to doctors and laymen alike, as they contemplate the idea that fixing ovulatory dysfunction is as simple as popping more iron pills. But this idea is just an idea at this stage, since the level of iron necessary as a treatment for the condition is still unclear.

Iron deficiency is known to be the most common of all nutritional deficiencies, today. Those women who are of childbearing age are at risk for developing iron deficient anemia because menstruation, pregnancy, and lactation all deplete the body's natural stores of iron.

More than 18,500 married women participated in the study which evaluated the use of diet and iron supplements for their efficacy in overcoming infertility. The researchers took into consideration the source of the iron intake and sought to discover if all iron acted in a similar fashion. They measured the intake of iron from food sources and whether there was a difference between iron from animal sources (heme or low iron) as opposed to iron from vegetable sources and supplements (non-heme iron).

The Less Animal Based Iron, The Lower The Risk Of Ovulatory Infertility

It was seen that during the course of the eight years of this study, the women who consumed more vegetable based iron had a lower risk of infertility due to ovulatory insufficiency than those women who consumed animal-based iron. While the findings of this study are compelling evidence that high iron levels increase fertility, researchers caution that women should inform their physicians if they choose to boost their levels of iron. The authors of the study were surprised to find that the more vegetable-based iron and multivitamin supplements consumed, the lower the risk of ovulatory infertility as compared with women with low iron or those receiving animal-based iron, such as that deriving from a meat-based diet.

Decrease Your Risk Of Infertility

The statistics speak for themselves: women who consumed iron supplements with at least 41 mg. of iron had their risk of infertility decreased by 62 percent, the lowest in the study. The results of this impressive study have doctors recommending more vegetable iron in the diets of women who want to conceive. Findings seem to suggest that certain building blocks must be in place in order to ovulate, have conception and fertilisation.

While it is known that good nutrition is basic, how much or the exact mix of nutrients for perfect pregnancy is yet to reveal itself.  Yet, in other studies the intake of red meat, a common source of iron, can decrease your chances of getting pregnant. Therefore, it may be best to take an iron supplement in order to get the dose you need. Consult with your doctor about the appropriate dosage for your iron supplement. If you experience digestive side effects, ask about switching to carbonyl iron, which may be less potent but more easily tolerated by the body.


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