If you visit any of the fertility chat rooms on the Internet, you will likely find that one of the main topics being discussed is the type of foods a woman should eat to increase her chances of conceiving and having children. In addition to the large variety of nutritional supplements being promoted as aids in increasing fertility, there is also a wide range of foods that are supposed to contribute to a healthy pregnancy.
But amidst all these myths and marketing slogans, what is the evidence that supports the idea that eating certain foods leads to an increase in male or female fertility and helps in the normal development of the fetus?
First, when it comes to contributing to the health of a pregnant woman or fetus, some nutrients can make a real difference, such as folic acid. It has been proven that taking it before and during pregnancy helps prevent the occurrence of a congenital anomaly called “anencephaly”, as well as spina bifida in the fetus.
Because these defects usually form early in pregnancy, before a woman realizes she is pregnant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States advises all women of childbearing age to take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily. Enriching staple foods such as breakfast cereals with folic acid may provide stronger protection against these abnormalities, since many pregnancies are unplanned. It is estimated that in 2019, effective folic acid fortification programs prevented 22 percent of potential cases of anencephaly and spina bifida worldwide.