Every vitamin has its own health benefits, and so I’ve listed the key benefits of each one for you here.
In most cases I’ve also included information about it’s effect on fertility health, so that it’s clear as to how important each one is.
This list refers to the natural nutrient as it exists in nature, in food, and not the nutrients that are used in supplements.
The isolated nutrients in supplement products may not provide you with the benefits that I list here as they often lack many supporting nutrients.
Use the contents list here to access the individual nutrients more easily.
Vitamin A is made up of 3 biologically active molecules, which are fat-soluble and absorbed primarily through the small intestine.
There are 2 ways of obtaining Vitamin A:
- The pre-formed version, absorbed when eating animal products
- Pro-vitamin A (beta-carotene) found mostly in carrots, sweet potato, peaches, apricots, squash, and other yellow fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin A is required for cellular creation, growth, and health, which is important for your general and fertility health – and that of your future baby.
Vitamin A helps with the absorption of Iron and is necessary for the growth and repair of many body cells including bones, teeth, collagen, and cartilage. It’s also involved in cell differentiation where cells become specific types of cells such as a liver cell or a blood cell. This is vital for the development of your healthy baby, and so Vitamin A should be sufficient in your diet in a food form.
Supplementation does not offer balanced or natural forms of Vitamin A.
Other supportive nutrients: Vitamins C, Vitamin E and Zinc
Other sources of preformed Vitamin A: Liver is the best natural source.
Other sources of the Pro-vitamin (beta-carotene) that convert to Vitamin A include Sweet Potato, Butternut Squash, Broccoli, Carrots, Spinach, Lettuce, Red Bell Peppers and Tuna. To make the beta-carotene absorbable you need to cook these foods with oil and consume the oil part of the meal too.
Concerns with Vitamin A consumption are linked to supplementation only, and not natural food sources such as beta-carotene, or animal sources of the preformed vitamin – both of which are safe in normal food portion quantities.
It is not advised to supplement with Vitamin A if you are pregnant or trying to conceive. If you have any concerns, please consult with your health practitioner.
Vitamin B complex refers to the combination of the 8 B vitamins- Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Pyridoxine, Biotin, folate, and Cobalamin.
Overall this Vitamin group is necessary for energy production and the synthesis and repair of DNA and RNA. This is vital for your overall health but also for cell function, which includes egg and sperm cells and their genetic health and quality.
When lacking in the diet it leads to many different deficiencies and health issues, with ‘vague’ symptoms. Nearly every cell in the body is affected when B vitamins are missing.
Vegetarians (particularly vegans) will not have access to some B Vitamins as they are not available from plant sources. Long term use of birth control can cause Vitamin B deficiencies.
B vitamins are required to help you metabolise (break down and use) carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. They may also have a calming effect and help to maintain a healthy nervous system, as well as being particularly helpful in the maintenance of healthy skin and muscle tone.
Vitamin B1, also known as Thiamine, is involved in the production of energy through the breakdown of sugars and carbohydrates. This is important for cellular health, which may also influence the health and energy of sperm and egg cells. Thiamine also helps the body make use of protein and is essential for brain functioning and digestion.
Vitamin B1 helps turn starch and sugar into usable energy that your body needs and plays an important role in nerve transmission. It’s also important for energy support during pregnancy.
Other supportive nutrients: Other B vitamins
Things that damage Vitamin B1: Heat, Alcohol, Stress, Refined Sugars & Starches, Caffeine, Antibiotics and Birth Control Pills
Thiamine is essential for the efficient functioning of the thyroid and along with Riboflavin (vitamin B2) plays an important role in overcoming estrogen dominance.
Other sources of Thiamine can be found in Salmon, Tuna, Trout, Mackerel, Pork, Flax seeds, Sunflower seeds, Black beans, Lentils, Green peas, Squash, Asparagus, Brown rice and Nuts.
Vitamin B2 also known as Riboflavin is necessary for energy production and normal cell function and growth. It helps regulate body acidity and supports the other B vitamins to make the chemical changes that allow them to become useful.
Research shows that vitamin B2 can act as an antioxidant, which helps to combat against harmful free radicals. Free radicals are known to negatively impact sperm and egg health due to causing DNA damage, and so antioxidants are a vital part of the human diet.
Vitamin B2 is also needed by your adrenal glands for the production of steroid hormones, which balance stress levels.
Other supportive nutrients: Other B vitamins
Things that damage Vitamin B2: Alcohol, Stress, Refined Sugars & Starches, Caffeine, Antibiotics and Birth Control Pills
Other sources of Vitamin B2 are: Eggs, Milk and other dairy products, Liver, Kidney, Mushrooms, Watercress, Mackerel, Broccoli, Tomatoes, Asparagus, Whole grains, and Leafy green vegetables
Vitamin B3, also known as Niacin, as with most other B vitamins is also involved in energy production within the mitochondria of your cells (the powerhouse of the cell).
It is an important part of the entire Vitamin B complex, which should be adequate in your diet to support your general and fertility health. Pregnancy requires good levels of niacin, as does breastfeeding.
Other supportive nutrients: Other B vitamins and selenium
Things that damage Vitamin B3: Alcohol, Antibiotics, Caffeine and Birth Control Pills
As Niacin cannot be stored in the body it is important to include it in your diet every day. You should be able to get the required amount of B3 by eating a varied and balanced diet.
Other sources of Vitamin B3 include Tuna, Halibut, Salmon, Mackerel, Chicken, Turkey, Lamb, Beef, Courgette/Zucchini, Squash, Cauliflower, Asparagus, Mushrooms, Potatoes and Whole grains.
Vitamin B5 also known as Pantothenic acid is a water-soluble vitamin found in most foods, so deficiency is rare. It is needed for the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats and is used in the production of coenzyme A.
Coenzyme A is an enzyme that’s involved in a variety of processes in the body – particularly the breaking down of fatty acids and transforming cholesterol into various hormones, and so is vital for maintaining fertility health.
The human body can only absorb around 10mg of vitamin B5 in a day. Any excess B5 which is not absorbed is then eliminated from the body.
Other supportive nutrients: Other B vitamins
Things that damage Vitamin B5: Alcohol, Stress, Refined Sugars & Starches, Caffeine, and Heat
Other sources of Vitamin B5 include Egg yolk, Liver, Kidney, Sweet Potato, Tomatoes, Shiitake Mushrooms, Cabbage, Broccoli, Pork, Beef, Fish.
Vitamin B6 also known as Pyridoxine is involved in breaking many types of chemical bonds. It is a component of many enzymes, which are involved in breaking down foods and substances and regulating steroid hormones.
B6 also helps in the production of neurotransmitters, which are the chemicals that allow brain and nerve cells to communicate – and this ensures that metabolic processes such as fat and protein metabolism happen properly.
B6 is also a strong component of the immune system, which makes it vital to have in your diet whilst trying to conceive.
It can also help address a number of conditions, including nerve compression injuries (like carpal tunnel syndrome), premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and some cases of depression and arthritis. Vitamin B6 is often used to treat high homocysteine levels along with folate and Vitamin B12.
Memory loss, diabetes, asthma attacks, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), kidney stones, lung cancer, acne, and atherosclerosis may also be improved through good amounts of vitamin B6 in the diet.
Other supportive nutrients: Other B vitamins
Things that damage Vitamin B6: Alcohol, Smoking, Stress, Antibiotics, and Birth Control Pills
Other sources of Vitamin B6 are Chicken, Turkey, Pork, Fish, Brown rice, Milk, Potatoes and Leafy green vegetables.
Vitamin B7 also known as Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin only needed in small amounts. It is vital for energy metabolism and without it, many enzymes do not work properly. This may create serious complications causing diseases of the skin, intestinal tract, and nervous system.
Biotin can help address high blood glucose levels (type 2 diabetes) and may be helpful in maintaining healthy hair and nails, growth and maintenance of muscle and tissue and protecting the heart.
It also reduces insulin resistance and improves glucose tolerance making it helpful for PCOS – and possibly also preventing birth defects.
Other supportive nutrients: Other B vitamins
Things that damage Vitamin B7: Raw egg whites, Alcohol, Antibiotics, Birth Control Pills
Other sources of B7 include: Egg yolk, Liver, Kidney, Spinach, Cauliflower, Potatoes, and Broccoli
Vitamin B9 is also known as Folate or folacin.
Mistakenly many people take Folic Acid, which is a synthetic version of Folate that is not recommended due to possible toxicity.
Folate is essential for human growth and development as it encourages normal nerve and brain function. It’s involved in the creation of DNA as well as building of proteins, and many other important functions including the healthy development of your baby’s spinal cord.
Folate has long been known for its protection against spina bifida, but many people don’t realise that it’s also important for their day-to-day health.
During pregnancy folate also supports the growth of the placenta and helps to prevent several types of birth defects, especially those of the brain and spine. Folate is an important nutrient for general and fertility health.
Other supportive nutrients: Vitamin C
Things that damage Vitamin B9: Heat, Alcohol, Antibiotics and Birth Control Pills
Other sources of B9 include Brussel sprouts, Broccoli, Leafy green vegetables, Asparagus, Cauliflower, Walnuts, Beans and Lentils.
Vitamin B12 also known as Cobalamin is an essential nutrient that is involved in the creation and maintenance of red blood cells, nerve cells, and the coating of nerve cells.
Aiding in the production of DNA, RNA, and neurotransmitters, it is a really important nutrient for developing healthy eggs and sperm – and for your babies’ future health development.
Vitamin B12 is not found in sufficient amounts in the plant world and so vegetarians and vegans will struggle to get this nutrient. Supplementation may help, but there will also be a lack of the supporting elements of natural B12.
Deficiency of vitamin B12 leads to anaemia, fatigue, depression and in severe cases, it may lead to Multiple Sclerosis or seizures.
Other supportive nutrients: Other B vitamins, particularly folate
Things that damage Vitamin B12: Heat, Alcohol, Smoking
Other sources of Vitamin B12 include Chicken, Turkey, Salmon, Tuna, Oysters, Liver, Beef, Lamb, Eggs and dairy products.
Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid and L-ascorbic acid helps to repair and regenerate tissues, help with the absorption of iron, prevent scurvy, and decrease total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides.
Research shows that vitamin C protects against free radicals due to its antioxidant nature. It also helps neutralize the effects of nitrites (a group of commonly used preservatives), which many people come into contact with daily through processed foods.
For fertility health, vitamin C is important in the process of absorption, and also for its ability to support the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle.
Supplement forms of vitamin C are usually inferior compared to natural sources and my advice is to obtain this nutrient from your diet daily through fresh vegetables and fruit.
Vitamin C increases the absorption of iron, and also affects the way calcium is metabolised and stored in your body.
Other supportive nutrients: Works with B vitamins to produce energy
Interactions: Restores Oxidised Vitamin E, Protects Vitamin A from Oxidation, and increases the absorption of Iron.
Things that damage Vitamin C: Alcohol and Smoking
Other sources of vitamin C include Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Potatoes, Red Bell peppers, Citrus Fruits, Strawberries, and most fresh fruits and vegetables.
Caution: taking large amounts of Vitamin C can cause stomach pain, flatulence, and diarrhea.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble hormone produced through the exposure of the skin to sunlight and is a vital nutrient for many processes in your body.
Research has shown that there may be a strong correlation between Vitamin D levels and AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone).
Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium and promotes bone mineralisation, which may prevent or slow the progression of osteoporosis. It also helps to strengthen the immune system and protect against a number of serious diseases, including rickets and osteomalacia.
Before taking vitamin D as a supplement, it is important to test your levels and see if they are low. Don’t assume that Vitamin D is low without testing it.
If your Vitamin D levels are in the normal range, then do not supplement.
If your levels are below the normal range, you could consider supplementing until your levels rise. Once supplementing you must re-test your Vitamin D every few months, as synthetic supplementation builds up in the Liver. During the months of March – October you will most likely find you get enough vitamin D through sun exposure and a varied balanced diet.
Other supportive nutrients: Sunlight, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Calcium, Fluoride, Vitamins A and C.
Interactions: Vitamin D helps with the absorption of Calcium
Things that damage Vitamin D: Lack of sunlight
Other Sources of Vitamin D are found in: Egg yolk, Organic grass-fed liver (beef being the highest), Salmon, Sardines, Herring, Mackerel.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient that is a powerful antioxidant. It helps protect cells against damage caused by free radicals, assists in the formation of red blood cells, and helps to maintain stores of vitamins A and K, iron, and selenium. It’s also thought to have a positive effect on immune health.
This nutrient is really helpful in protecting sperm and egg cells from free radical damage, which can damage the DNA of the cell and may lead to morphology issues – in sperm and eggs.
Vitamin E is an important nutrient to have in your fertility diet, and it’s available from many food sources.
Other supportive nutrients: Vitamin C and Selenium
Interaction: It preserves Vitamin A. When combined with Selenium it has a stronger antioxidant effect, preventing free radicals from damaging the body.
Other sources include Eggs, Milk, Muscle meats, Cereal, Wheat germ, Wheat germ oil, Sunflower oil, Grapeseed and other seed oils, Almonds, Walnuts and other nuts, Salmon, Tuna, Mackerel, and Seaweed.
Vitamin F is now more commonly known as Essential Fatty Acids Omega 3 and Omega 6, which are important for all-round health as well as your fertility.
Their primary function is to create and repair tissue. They are also involved in energy production, nerve impulse transmission, cell membrane formation, brain and thinking functions, transfer of oxygen to the blood from the air and haemoglobin manufacture.
Both omega 3 and 6 are involved in hormonal function and health, which helps support fertility.
Omega 3 has strong anti-inflammatory actions, whilst an overdose of omega 6 (very common in most people) is linked to increased inflammation.
We cannot survive without consuming natural and whole-food fats, and ideally these should be in a natural food form for optimum quality.
Important note: Supplementing with fish oils (for increased omega 3) is a popular practice at present – but it may be causing more harm than good.
Research has shown that in many cases the fish oils cause the issues they are supposed to treat. Fish oils are highly sensitive to heat, including human body temperature, and they oxidise when slightly warmed. By the time they leave the fish body, go through the multiple levels of processing, and eventually end up inside your body (months or even years after being processed) – they have already oxidised and converted to free radicals, which damage your DNA. The products that millions of people are taking to protect their DNA from damage, may actually be causing more harm. The best option is to not supplement, but instead, gain omega 3 from natural food sources.
Other sources included: Oily fish (Salmon, Trout, Mackerel, Tuna), Grass-fed Animal Fats, Sunflower seeds, flaxseed oil, Grapeseed oil, walnut oil, Soymilk (only use fermented soy products) and Tofu.
Vitamin K is an essential nutrient (made of two forms: Vitamin K1 and K2) necessary for responding to injuries, as it regulates normal blood clotting.
By assisting the transportation of calcium throughout the body, Vitamin K may also be helpful for bone health. It may reduce bone loss and decrease the risk of bone fractures and it may also help to prevent calcification of arteries and other soft tissue.
Vitamin K can be particularly useful if you suffer from heavy and/or painful periods as it can help slow down the blood flow and reduce cramping.
Other supportive nutrients: Healthy fats (Vitamin K is fat soluble) and bacteria in the gut as vitamin K2 is produced in the intestines.
Things that damage Vitamin K: Antibiotics
Other sources include Raw milk, liver, kelp, many green plants and vegetables (leafy), raw cereal grasses (wheatgrass juice), egg yolks, soybean oil and spinach.
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