Enhancing Fertility: What's Your Nutrient Status?
On my first visit with a patient, I run a series of in-office labs to assess for pH balance, adrenal function, microbiome status, and nutrient levels. It’s a simple set of labs that we use your urine, saliva and a drop of your blood to run, that tells us very valuable information about the status of your cellular environment. The balance in the cellular environment makes all the difference to whether the cells in your body function at vitality (ie. you sleep well, have adequate energy, moods are stable, body feels strong, hormones are in balance, and you can fall pregnant easily and healthily carry a full term pregnancy) or somewhere between vitality and disease (ie. you’re tired, have insomnia, digestion is suboptimal, skin is unhealthy, have pain, periods are difficult or irregular, have trouble achieving or maintaining pregnancy, etc).
The really interesting thing that I’ve observed working with patients for many years running these tests is how frequently I find nutritional deficiencies.
In North America, you would think that the problem we have is with macronutrient and micronutrient excesses. How often do we read about the obesity epidemic in the news? And it’s documented link to overconsumption? All the time. Too much fat, too much sugar, too many calories and too little activity. Macronutrient excess is everywhere.
And yet, micronutrient deficiencies are rampant. Even in the patient population that I work with (let’s be real, most of my patients are well educated, take care of themselves, access healthy food and pay attention to their lifestyle habits), I find a mineral and/or antioxidant deficiency with almost every single patient I see.
Isn’t that incredible?
The problem could be a combination of things, but basically it comes down to two broad issues:
1. Micronutrient intake is low (not enough going in)
2. Micronutrient absorption is inadequate (not enough being taken up by cells)
You’re either not getting enough of a particular nutrient, or even if you are consuming it, somewhere along the process of digestion, assimilation and absorption you’re missing something. It could be a pH imbalance in the GI tract: your saliva is too acidic or you’re lacking in stomach acid. It could be an enzymatic defect: predetermined by genetics, or malfunctioning due to lack of enough of a cofactor nutrient required for its activity. Or it could be damage to the integrity of the GI tract or the microbiome: from long term inflammation or repeat antibiotic use.
Regardless of the cause, not having adequate mineral or antioxidant status is a huge red flag for your fertility.
Recall that egg cells and sperm cells are very sensitive to their environment - too much inflammation can be super damaging to their structure and function1. They’re also incredibly sensitive to the nutritional status of their environment, including antioxidant levels2. And both egg and sperm cells lack adequate defense and repair mechanisms to fight against oxidative stress and repair from oxidative damage3. This means that being deficient in antioxidants leads to damage of your egg or sperm cells that can hinder your ability to fall pregnant easily, or produce a healthy baby when egg and sperm cells meet.
Even if you’re eating the way of the Acubalance Fertility Diet and taking high quality supplements, you could still be micronutrient deficient if you’re not assimilating and absorbing.
And you wanted to be pregnant yesterday, right? (How did she know!?)
Hands down, the fastest way to correct micronutrient deficiencies is with nutritional IV therapy.
I can give you all the highest quality supplements, and come to your house to cook you fabulous, nutrient dense meals (sorry, not a service we currently offer), and make you turn off the TV and focus on mindful eating and chewing your food adequately. But all of that takes time. I have found that it takes at least 6 months to see a shift in those nutrient markers with patients who are just using food and supplementation to support their levels. I can see similar shifts in 6 weeks with patients who use IV therapy.
Nutritional intravenous (IV) therapy is a customized vitamin treatment, given approximately once per week, where vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants are delivered in high amounts directly to the cells. The blend of nutrients is tailored to the patient’s needs, but often for female fertility I’m focused on folate, B vitamins like B6 and riboflavin, selenium, vitamin C, copper, and carnitine. For male fertility, I focus on zinc, selenium, B12 and vitamin C. For both, a glutathione push is a very smart addition - glutathione is the body’s most potent antioxidant, and I have found it clinically can make a huge difference in egg and sperm quality for my patients trying to conceive.
We recommend the best time for using IV therapy for your fertility is in the preconception phase (3 months prior to conception), but more specifically break it down for you, depending on where you’re at in your fertility journey here.
If you have questions about whether nutritional IV therapy is right for you, read here for IV therapy FAQ, and please call to schedule a free phone consult with one of our naturopathic physicians. We will screen you for whether you’re a good nutritional IV candidate, and ensure that the therapy we’re recommending is safe and would be beneficial for you. Call us at 604-678-8600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Dr Kali MacIsaac
ND, Naturopathic Doctor