Is A Micronutrient Deficiency Causing Your Infertility?
Most of the patients I see in a day at Acubalance are pretty healthy individuals. They eat fairly healthy diets, watch how much alcohol they consume, exercise regularly, most don’t smoke. They’re not particularly hard on their bodies, and in general they do their best to practice healthy lifestyle habits. Despite all their efforts, many of these patients still struggle to conceive. And it can feel incredibly frustrating (!), especially as the rational mind tries to understand how some other humans can fall pregnant seemingly without even trying. Believe me, I get that.
How is it that some couples fall pregnant without even trying, and others struggle for years with unexplained infertility?
The answer to that question is long, complex, and not even wholly complete. But one common cause that I find some of the most success with (fertility and general health-wise) is correcting micronutrient deficiencies.
There are many aspects to optimal fertility: a healthy diet, regular exercise, good sleep, balanced hormones, and a full workup with a Reproductive Endocrinologist to rule out obvious causes are good places to start. Digging deeper at Acubalance, we also look at subtle changes in the cellular environment that may affect egg, sperm or uterine environment quality. Deficiencies of micronutrients is something I find all the time.
When it comes to nutrients, there are two types - macronutrients and micronutrients – I'm talking about the latter, but will define both.
Macronutrients, which we’re not discussing here, include carbohydrates, proteins and fats. It is important to take in macronutrients in appropriate ratios to fuel the body (you need all three categories to thrive), and that balance is different for everyone. But generally, following a diet like the Acubalance Fertility Diet will get your ratios pretty close to optimal.
Micronutrients are nutrients that the body needs in very minute amounts in order to function optimally. This category includes vitamins (like vitamin C and vitamin D, both water- and fat-soluble vitamins), minerals (like sodium and calcium), trace elements (like chromium and copper), phytochemicals (like saponins and isoflavones) and antioxidants (like carotenoids and flavonoids).
During an initial intake with a patient, I look for a couple of key micronutrient deficiencies that can contribute to infertility – we run an antioxidant screen from a urine sample, and a mineral deficiency screen using saliva. When I find deficiencies in the levels of either of these categories of microminerals, I then dig to figure out why they’re deficient. Some standard lab testing from your GP can also help - a CBC and ferritin to assess iron status, a serum vitamin B12, and a vitamin D (25OH) are four I recommend as a good starting point. From there, we can also run a micronutrient panel through a private lab, which comprehensively tells us about the intracellular content of about 40 different nutrients.
Generally, micronutrient deficiencies in the cellular environment come from one or both of the following:
-inadequate intake: even if you eat as healthily as possible, the unfortunate fact is that the micronutrient content of our foods today is rapidly decreasing. Modern agricultural practices leave soils depleted – and veggies and fruits can only contain the nutrients from the soil in which they’re grown. Even when intake should be adequate, depleted foods may be to blame.
-inadequate assimilation and absorption: even if you’re putting high quality food in, that’s no guarantee that your body is properly breaking down, assimilating and absorbing those nutrients. If the body is under stress, or there are digestive issues like IBS, gas/bloating, gallbladder removal, diarrhea, constipation or variable stool quality, assimilation and absorption are likely less than optimal.
Depending on the cause, I work with patients to optimize nutrient intake, digestion and absorption.
In many cases, I’ll use a course of nutritional IVs in order to increase the micromineral content of the cellular environment as quickly as possible. The two reasons I’ll do this follow: 1. Getting nutrients in an IV means we can bypass the digestive tract (this is especially beneficial if there is a digestion and absorption issue) while we work on restoring the absorptive capacity of the gut, and 2. With nutritional IVs, we can deliver higher quantities of certain nutrients than what could be absorbed even with a perfectly functioning digestive tract. With nutritional IVs, I am guaranteed 100% absorption. That claim really can’t be made for even the most advanced oral supplements.
If you’re curious as to whether nutrient deficiencies may be contributing to your struggles to conceive, call to schedule a free 15 minute consult with me to discuss testing, or come join us for our Friday afternoon group IV clinic, TGIV. You’ll find some more information on TGIV here.
Dr. Kali MacIsaac HBSc, ND