Becoming a Mom: The Science of Nutritional Supplements to Boost A Woman’s Fertility

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Infertility is a challenging issue, affecting about 10 to 15% of couples, and its prevalence is growing [PMID: 22275473]. It has many causes arising from conditions in both men and women. This article aims to focus on female fertility, exploring various factors that contribute to infertility in women and investigating the potential benefits of nutritional supplements in enhancing fertility.

We will delve into scientific research exploring the effectiveness of specific supplements, including prenatal vitamins with folic acid, Myoinositol and D-Chiroinositol, N Acetyl Cysteine (NAC), Coenzyme CQ10 (CoQ10), L-Carnitine, Melatonin, Omega 3, and Vitamin D, to provide a comprehensive understanding of their roles in fertility enhancement.

What Causes Infertility?

Medical causes of infertility are beyond the scope of this article. They include causes like pelvic adhesions, tubal infertility, and uterine and cervical abnormalities. Endometriosis is also a cause of infertility and there has been some exciting news recently about the possible cause. [PMID: 37316604]. Some of the causes that can be affected by nutritional intake and supplements are the following:

  • Hormone dysfunction: Hormonal imbalances often contribute to changes in ovulation rates or may stop ovulation altogether. A complicated series of hormonal rhythms are needed each month to produce an egg. A physician can test levels of hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone. They can prescribe treatment for any imbalances that might be preventing conception.
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Hormonal dysfunction is very common for women with PCOS. Please refer to our article on Fertility in PCOS.
  • Low Vitamin D: Low serum vitamin D is correlated with endocrine disturbances. [PMID: 22275473]
  • Poor Egg Quality: Poor egg quality is thought to contribute to infertility, especially as women age through their 30’s and into their 40’s. Improving the quality and maturation of oocytes (egg cells) is also important for improving pregnancy rates. [PMID: 28544572]
  • Endocrine Disruptors: Research suggests that endocrine disruptors, which are present in everything from plastic food packaging to air pollution, are correlated with increased rates of miscarriage, and reduced live birth rates. [NBK576379]
  • Poor Sleep: Infertility has also been correlated with poor sleep [PMC6125064], and it is possible that stress is also a factor. [PMC6016043]
  • Stress: Elevated stress is associated with infertility. [PMC5632691][PMC3984126]

Supplement Strategies to Boost Fertility

Based on current research findings, the ingredients in the products below have been shown to be effective in improving a variety of factors associated with female fertility. [PMC8541636, PMC9308390]

Active IngredientsReferencesOutcome EvaluatedMinimal Effective Dose
Melatonin[PMID: 26507336][PMC6769719]Better Oocyte and embryo quality3 mg
Folic acid[PMC8541636]Better Oocyte and embryo quality400 mcg
Myo-inositol[PMID: 21744744]Better Oocyte and Embryo quality4 g
D-chiro-inositol[PMID: 30880505]Improved Pregnancy rate300 mg
NAC[PMID: 17364286][PMID: 25482371]
[PMID: 20089454]
Improved Pregnancy rate1200 mg
CQ10[PMC5870379]Better Fertilization Rate and embryo quality in “low-prognosis” women receiving IVF 600 mg
Carnitine[PMID: 25015747]
[PMID: 29378447]
Better Embryo quality1 g
Vitamin D[PMC6172745]Better Anti Mullerian Hormone levels3560 IU
Magnesium[PMID: 34009514]Anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects300-400 mg

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Start With The Best Foundational Fertility Supplement

Multivitamin/Mineral with Folate, Myo-Inositol, NAC, CQ10, and Melatonin

The advantage of “FH Pro for Women” is that it is simple to keep track of with just 6 capsules per day of this single product. However, it provides lower quantities of some of the effective ingredients than are referenced in some of the research. Granted, some of the research dosages are taken from studies of women being treated for known infertility. Nevertheless, this product would be a great choice for women without a history of PCOS or history of previous infertility.

Amount Per Serving: 6 Capsules

Prenatal Multivitamins:
Vitamin A … 5,000IU, Vitamin C … 240mg, Vitamin E … 100IU, Vitamin K … 80mcg (50% as K1 and 50% as K2), Thiamin … 3mg(as thiamine HCl and benfotiamine), Benfotiamine … 1mg, Riboflavin … 3.4mg, Niacin … 40mg, Vitamin B6 … 4mg, Vitamin B12 … 12mcg (as methylcobalamin), Biotin … 600mcg, Pantothenic Acid … 20mg, Iron … 18mg, Iodine … 150mcg, Zinc … 30mg, Selenium … 70mcg, Copper … 1mg, Manganese … 2mg, Chromium … 240mcg, Molybdenum … 75mcg, Choline … 50mg, Grape Seed Extract … 50mg, Alpha Lipoic Acid … 100mg, Trans-Resveratrol … 50mg

Active Ingredients Related to Fertility:

  • Myo-Inositol … 2,000mg
  • D-Chiro-Inositol … 50mg
  • CoQ10 … 300mg
  • N-Acetyl L-Cysteine … 50mg
  • Melatonin … 2mg
  • Folate … 800mcg(as Quatrefolic®)

Add Optional Specific Supplements

If you are just beginning to think about pregnancy and have many reproductive years ahead, the supplement above may be a great option. A more comprehensive supplement approach is appropriate if you have a history of infertility or PCOS. Although the cost is higher and most people don’t like taking more capsules, when you combine multiple separate supplements, you gain the ability to adjust the quantities of each of the research-proven ingredients to the levels used in the studies. For women having difficulty conceiving and who want to know about every supplement that has been shown to increase fertility rates, the following protocol is offered. Researchers have reviewed the various studies and compiled the minimal effective dosages for each nutrient. [PMC8541636] Omega 3 was not evaluated as part of this trial, but there is evidence that it improves fertility as well.

Omega 3: You Need It If You Don’t Eat Fish

A population study of women trying to become pregnant showed that those taking omega-3 supplements had about 1.5 times the probability of conceiving compared to women not taking omega-3s. The women took different brands and different dosages of omega-3 supplements. [PMC9308390] Typical Dosage: 1000 mg/day.

Omega 3

A pharmaceutical-grade fish oil supplement that provides the omega-3 fats needed to support fertility and pregnancy wellness. Made from small, cold water fish – processed to remove heavy metals. Provides 675 mg of DHA and 225 mg of EPA per daily dose. Small, easy to swallow softgels with a natural citrus flavor.
As a dietary supplement, take 3 capsules daily.

Amount Per 3 Softgel Serving
Calories … 20
Total Fat … 1.5 grams
Vitamin E (mixedtocopherols) … 1.5 IU
Omega-3 Fatty Acids … 1004 mg:
-DHA (Docosahexaenoic) … 675 mg
-EPA (Eicosapentaenoic) … 225 mg
-Other Omega-3 Fatty Acids … 104mg

Ingredients: Fish Oil (herring, mackerel, sardines, anchovies)

Myoinositol & D Chiro Inositol

A great deal of research has been done on Myoinositol and D Chiro Inositol. Here are some of the major findings:

  • In one study, researchers gathered data from several controlled trials where women with PCOS were either given myoinositol or a placebo. The analysis showed that myoinositol could improve insulin resistance in women with PCOS and it also seemed to increase estrogen levels. [PMID: 29052180]
  • The combined therapy myo-inositol plus D-chiro-inositol, rather than D-chiro-inositol, is able to improve IVF outcomes. [PMID: 23708322]
  • In another study, researchers found that a Myo-inositol and D-chiro inositol combination was more effective after three months. So, the combination of Myo-inositol and D-chiro inositol is the better approach for overweight women with PCOS. [PMID: 22774396]
  • Research on women undergoing various high-tech fertility treatments has shown that myo-inositol improved pregnancy rates. Reference: (3)(11)(13)(21)
  • The 40:1 myo-inositol/D-chiro-inositol plasma ratio is able to restore ovulation in PCOS patients: comparison with other ratios [PMID: 31298405]
  • Myo-inositol and melatonin have been shown to be synergistic in their ability to improve oocyte and embryo quality in women undergoing in vitro fertilization treatments. [PMID: 26507336]
  • Typical Research Dose-Myoinositol: 2000-6000 mg

Balanced-B8™ Biotics Research 8 Ounces

Myo-inositol (MI) and D-chiro-inositol (DCI) have insulin-sensitizing capabilities and are involved in many cellular functions. Research suggests that supplementing with the 40:1 MI and DCI ratio supplied by Balanced-B8™ provides optimal support, especially for women with PCOS. It also assists in the transportation of fats throughout the body and in neural communication. Inositol also functions to support vascular health, and is important in hair growth. It is present in all body tissues, but the highest concentrations are found in the brain, heart and lens of the eye. One and a half (1½) teaspoons mixed with water or juice each day or as otherwise directed by a healthcare professional.

Amount Per 5g (approx. 1½ teaspoons) Serving
Myo-Inositol and D-Chiro-Inositol Blend … 5g (40:1) 

Myo + D-Chiro Inositol Supplement for Women Fairhaven Health

A dietary supplement designed to support hormone balance and healthy ovulation, and includes these two nutrients in a 40:1 ratio.* As a dietary supplement, take 4 capsules daily.

Amount Per 4 Capsule Serving
Myo-Inositol … 2000mg
C-Chiro Inositol … 50mg

Vitamin D And Fertility

In a review of the studies, researchers summarized the findings on Vitamin D as it relates to fertility. [PMID:22275473] Here are some of their findings:

  • Research shows that vitamin D is involved in women’s fertility, including how successful in vitro fertilization, and in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
  • In women with PCOS, low vitamin D levels are linked with being overweight, metabolic problems, and hormone disturbances. Taking vitamin D might help improve the regularity of periods and reduce metabolic problems in these women.
  • Vitamin D might affect the production of sex hormones (like estrogen and progesterone) in healthy women.
  • For men, having enough vitamin D is linked with good sperm health and hormone balance.

Other research showed that when women undergoing “assisted reproductive technology” had supplementation to correct their low Vitamin D status, their pregnancy rates, and live birth rates in vitamin D-deficient individuals. [PMID: 29149263]

NOTE: Each person’s dosage should be based on their individual lab results. Vitamin D Labs can easily be ordered online using our affiliate link or by consulting your physician.

Vitamin D3 5000 IU by Nordic Naturals

Vitamin D3 5000 is Nordic Naturals’ signature high-potency vitamin D product, suitable for clinical applications aimed to correct or avoid vitamin D deficiency, or to fast-track support for overall health and wellness.* With 5000 I.U. of natural vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) in extra virgin olive oil, Vitamin D3 5000 helps replenish vitamin D in tissue stores, supporting patients at increased risk of deficiency.*

This product does not contain fish oil. Take as directed by a healthcare practitioner.

Amount Per 1 Soft Gel Serving
Vitamin D3
 … 5000IU (Cholecalciferol)

Carnitine

Oocytes, or egg cells, have a lot more mitochondria than most other cells – between 100,000 to 200,000. They need a lot of energy to grow and function well. That critical energy is generated within the powerhouses of our cells known as the mitochondria. If these mitochondria aren’t working well, it can cause problems with energy which results in issues with fertility.

The decline of mitochondrial function with age is probably a major cause of the decline of embryo quality and fertility at older ages.

L-Carnitine helps to move fats into the mitochondria where they can be broken down for energy. So, in theory, taking L-Carnitine supplements could help boost energy production in these cells.

Researchers believe L-carnitine can prevent cell damage and promote energy production from fatty acids (β-oxidation). Research from a study of women receiving L-carnitine in addition to fertility treatments improved the quality of oocytes after insemination. [PMID: 29378447]

Cell TypeEstimated Number of Mitochondria
Oocytes100,000 to 200,000
Brain Cells2 million per cell [PMC5687842]
Heart Cells5,000
Liver, Muscle, of Skin Cells1,000 to 2,000
Fat Cells500 to 2,000
Blood CellsFew to none (erythrocytes)

L-Carnitine Powder by Biotics Research

L-Carnitine Powder provides a powdered source of L-Carnitine as L-carnitine fumarate. L-Carnitine plays an important role in cellular energy by facilitating the transport of fatty acids across mitochondrial membranes. Carnitine is also a substance that helps the body turn fat into energy.*
One (1) teaspoon of L-Carnitine Powder each day as a dietary supplement or as otherwise directed by a healthcare professional. 

Serving Size: 1 Teaspoon (approx. 3g)

Amount Per Serving
L-Carnitine … 1.7g  (as L-Carnitine fumarate) 

CoQ10 and Fertility

Ovulation is an energy-intense process, so a woman’s egg cells contain more mitochondria (power centers) than any other type of cell.  CoQ10 plays a crucial role in energy production inside each of those mitochondria. As women age, the production of CoQ10 decreases and egg quality declines.

Researchers found that pretreatment with 600 mg/day CoQ10 improves ovarian response to stimulation and embryological measures in young women who were undergoing in vitro fertilization who had poor ovarian reserves. [PMC5870379] The typical research dose used in studies was 600mg per day.

Co-Q10 200mg by Jarrow Formulas

Cholesterol Antioxidant*Promotes Cellular Energy Production*

  • Original CoQ10 Capsules
  • Physician Supported Cardiovascular Protection*
  • Enhances levels depleted by statin use*
  • Natural Trans Configuration Only
  • Pharmaceutical Grade Kaneka Q10®

Co-Q10, an important antioxidant found in high concentration in human heart and liver, is part of the cells’ electron transport system, needed for ATP (i.e., energy) production within the cells.* Jarrow Formulas® Co-Q10 restores Co-Q10 levels reduced by the use of statins.*

Jarrow Formulas® Co-Q10 is derived from fermentation and consists only of the natural trans configuration, the same as is synthesized in the human body.

Jarrow Formulas® supports clinical research on Coenzyme Q10.

Suggested Use: Take 1 capsule up to 3 times per day with food or as directed by your qualified healthcare professional.

Amount Per One Capsule Serving
Coenzyme Q10 … 200mg (Ubiquinone)

N Acetyl Cysteine In Fertility

N Acetyl Cysteine, or NAC, provides a highly bioavailable source of the amino acid cysteine. We need cysteine as a building block for our cells to make glutathione. Glutathione is the master antioxidant we make to protect cells from damage, support the immune system, detoxify the body from harmful substances, and help in energy metabolism and cell regeneration.

So, NAC improves glutathione levels, which increases antioxidant capacity within the egg cells. This can have a positive effect on oocytes by reducing oxidative stress and improving their quality, ultimately enhancing fertility outcomes in women trying to conceive. In patients who received various fertility treatments, 1200 – 1800 mg NAC improved fertility rates. [PMID: 26291797]

Researchers reviewed the effects of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) who were trying to conceive. They reviewed eight randomized studies involving 910 women with PCOS who received either NAC or placebo. The findings showed that women who took NAC had higher chances of achieving a live birth, getting pregnant, and experiencing ovulation compared to those who received a placebo. [PMC4306416]

NAC (N acetyl-cysteine): A Precursor of Glutathione

  • N-Acetyl-Cysteine
  • Supports Glutathione Production*
  • Healthy Respiratory Function*

N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) is a stable and bioactive form of cysteine, an amino acid that plays a key role in phase II detoxification and homocysteine metabolism.* NAC is efficiently transported into the cell, where it is readily converted to cysteine for glutathione synthesis and regeneration.* Because NAC can penetrate the blood-brain barrier, it is especially important for maintaining healthy brain and nervous system tissues.* NAC also helps to support respiratory health by promoting normal mucus viscosity.*
Suggested Use:  Take 1 tablet 1 to 3 times daily, or as directed by your healthcare practitioner.

Amount Per 1 Tablet Serving
N-Acetyl-Cysteine
 … 1g (1,000mg)(NAC)

Cautions / Interactions
NAC may interact with nitroglycerin. Consult your healthcare practitioner before taking this product if you are taking nitroglycerin.

Melatonin And Fertility

Melatonin is also a strong antioxidant and an effective free radical scavenger, which protects ovarian follicles during follicular maturation. [PMC6943797] Researchers have noticed that a reduction in melatonin levels of follicular fluid in women with PCOS. Melatonin receptors in the ovary and intra-follicular fluid adjust sex steroid secretion at different phases of ovarian follicular maturation.

Melatonin and myo-inositol have been shown to be synergistic in their ability to improve oocyte and embryo quality in women undergoing in vitro fertilization treatments. [PMID: 26507336]

Melatonin (3mg) Douglas Labs

Contain 3 mg of purest pharmaceutical-grade melatonin, in a convenient and great-tasting dissolvable tablet.

As a dietary supplement, adults take 1 tablet 30 minutes before bedtime or as directed by your healthcare professional only. Allow the tablet to dissolve in your mouth and then swallow.

Serving Size: One Tablet

Amount Per Serving
Melatonin … 3mg

Magnesium And Fertility

Magnesium is a critical mineral in the human body that is involved in about 80% of known metabolic reactions in cells. It is currently estimated that about 60% of adults do not achieve the acceptable dietary intake (ADI) and 45% of Americans are magnesium deficient [PMC6163803]

Magnesium is well known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Magnesium combined with vitamin E or zinc-calcium-vitamin D significantly improves glucose and lipid metabolism in women with PCOS. Magnesium intake alone did not lead to a significant improvement, but magnesium combined with other supplements (vitamin E, zinc, zinc-calcium-vitamin D) significantly improved markers of inflammation, insulin sensitivity, blood fat levels. [PMC9389579]

In a controlled study, 60 women with PCOS received either a daily magnesium supplement containing 250 mg of magnesium oxide or a placebo for eight weeks. The magnesium group showed an increase in luteinizing hormone levels, a hormone that plays a critical role in the menstrual cycle and ovulation. There was also a decrease in testosterone levels and an increase in dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) levels.[PMC9027569]

Magnesium Glycinate by Douglas Labs

Magnesium (glycinate) is a highly bioavailable magnesium chelate, which supports the metabolism and utilization of carbohydrates, amino acids and fats for energy. Magnesium (glycinate) helps activate enzymes for physiological functions including cardiac health.‡
As a dietary supplement, adults take 1 capsule, 1-4 times daily or as directed by your health professional

Serving Size: 1 Vegetarian Capsule

Amount Per Serving
Magnesium … 120mg (as magnesium glycinate)

[Note: Estimated absorption: 85%]

Magnesium Drink Mixes

For those who prefer to mix magnesium into a drink, the Natural Calm line of flavored magnesium supplements will be the way to go.

Natural Calm

Magnesium is one of the most important basic nutrients that power our bodies, and it is required for more than 700 biochemical reactions. But since our bodies don’t produce this mineral, we need to replenish its supply every day. Due to nutrient-deficient soil and fast-paced lifestyles, few of us (estimated at less than one in five) get sufficient magnesium in our diets. This means supplementation is needed, and Natural Calm is the best-selling, award-winning ionic magnesium that mixes easily in water to restore healthy magnesium levels quickly and effectively. 

Suggested Use:
Start with half a teaspoon (1g) daily and gradually increase to two teaspoons (4g) per day as needed.

Amount Per 2 teaspoons (4g) Serving
Magnesium … 350mg
(as Magnesium Carbonate)

Food First!

Although this article discusses supplements in detail, don’t forget that we are absolutely committed to the “Food First” approach to nutrition. When it comes to your health, the totality of your eating habits far surpasses the impact of individual nutrients or any single supplement you consume. Even though this article doesn’t delve into the broader picture of your overall diet, it’s crucial to keep this element at the forefront of our minds. Your food needs to provide all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals to nourish your body systems down to the cellular level.

Food choices, rather than supplements, are the most critical factors for a healthy gut microbiome. These trillions of tiny inhabitants in your gut affect your brain waves; they orchestrate your immune system. They possess the power to create molecules that can switch genes on or off and are even capable of synthesizing neurotransmitters. Opting for organic foods and steering clear of plastic packaging (including those labeled BPA-free) is a smart move to limit toxin exposure. The sum of all these parts leads to a powerful conclusion: the ultimate key to your health lies in the quality and balance of the food you consume. Supplements are secondary.

To Sum It Up

Female infertility is a common and heartbreaking problem. Researchers believe that infertility in women is caused by hormonal dysfunction, environmental toxins, insulin resistance, and issues with egg quality related to energy metabolism within the oocyte. While eating an optimal diet is still key to overall health, nutritional supplements provide extra help in optimizing fertility. These supplements fill in any gaps in our diet, ensuring our bodies get all they need to support fertility. Supplements alone aren’t a quick solution. They are part of a larger approach that includes a healthy diet, regular exercise, and taking care of our emotional well-being.


This Article is Not a Substitute for Medical Advice

Dietary supplements are not designed to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The Supplement Sciences website seeks to provide comprehensive access to the most relevant supplement information along with convenient online ordering. We do not provide medical advice and cannot guarantee that every product suggested is completely without risk. Since each person is unique in their health history and medication use, it is important to discuss supplements with your personal physician. Specifically, pregnant women and individuals being treated for cancer or liver or kidney problems must consult their physician about every nutritional supplement they plan to take. People taking medications for the treatment of HIV or with a history of organ transplant must not take supplements without consulting with their physician.


About the Author

Stephanie Figon, MS, RDN, LD

Creator of Supplement Sciences and NutriScape.NET. As a dietitian since 1992, Steph has had experiences in consulting, 15 years in clinical, and has operated a private practice nutrition counseling office for since 2011. Log in to comment and save this article on your board or send your comments to reviews@supplement-sciences.com