I remember being particularly meticulous in my fertility supplement regimen when I was trying to conceive, and I do believe that consistency and a high quality product can make a measurable difference. (Also see the article by Dr. Machelle Seibel, Fertility and Sterility, Oct. 1999 on the role of nutritional supplementation in women’s reproductive health on FertileHeart.com)
Several months ago, searching for a reliable fertility supplement brand for my clients with impaired immune function, I confided in one of my physician colleagues, and spoke about my frustration of seeing people take as many as twenty to thirty fertility supplements that seemed to do not much more than disrupt their digestion.
My colleague, a seasoned integrative health practitioner with many years of clinical practice, suggested I research USANA health sciences, which she has been recommending to her clients for over a decade. Perhaps the best recommendation was the fact that my colleague was using the supplements herself, was nearing sixty, had a very active professional life and looked radiant.
Of the many supplements made by USANA, I created a list of a few formulations which are widely recommended as fertility supplements. You can view our recommended supplements and view more detailed instructions on how and why to take them.
USANA and the Fertile Heart™ Ovum Approach
Below are a few general comments about why the USANA line of supplements is a particularly good match for the Fertile Heart™ Ovum Approach to Conception, followed by specific formulation recommendations, which, based on my research and experience, can be useful for enhancing endocrine function. Again, please note that the fertility supplements listed, with the exception of Coquinone, are just as important for maintenance of optimal health after you conceive. When pregnant please refer to the specific USANA Supplements for Pregnancy Document.
Please note: there are several formulas in the USANA line that contain soy protein and compounds I do not recommend to anyone with fertility issues. (For more detailed discussion of the pros and cons of soy, see Is Soy a Fertility Food?, you may also refer to the practice section on food in The Fertile Female.
- Potency and Purity of Active Ingredients—As outlined above, the quality of ingredients and the mode of production can make all the difference. USANA quality systems are modeled after pharmaceutical Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), standards that are generally higher than nutritional product manufacturers are required to meet.
- Absorption—The US Pharmacopoeia manufacturing guidelines suggest that in order to be effective, any supplement tablet should break apart in 30 to 60 minutes. USANA supplements are provided in their most bioavailable form and dissolve in water within 20 minutes.
- Key Fertility Enhancing Nutrients without Specific Hormonal Properties—In the last decade, a number of fertility supplement formulations with strong hormonal properties have been touted as fertility boosters. Though some women find them useful, I’ve also seen such formulas wreak havoc with hormonal balance, even when they’re prescribed by seasoned clinicians. In general, I have found that compounds that target specific hormones need to be ingested with great caution and only under the supervision of a qualified healthcare provider specializing in infertility. Which is why USANA is a perfect fit for the Fertile Heart™ philosophy. Rather than focusing on specific hormone levels, these formulations aim to increase overall health and energy, and allow the internal pharmacist to attend to the delicate task of balancing the reproductive system.
- No Iron—USANA Essential™ mineral (a USANA product, see recommendations below) is formulated without iron for maximum safety. This is especially useful for women with fertility related difficulties who might be experiencing irregular menstrual cycles. Periodic blood loss in women who menstruate regularly protects them from excessive iron accumulation. In my consulting practice, I’ve seen women with irregular cycles suffer from severe elevated iron levels from taking supplemental iron at their doctor’s recommendation. Having said that, iron is an important mineral. Scientific literature recommends 18-30mg daily as a safe dosage for women with monthly menstrual cycles. It should be taken in conjunction (but not at the same time) with the Essentials and together with an adequate amount of protein (2.5 ounces of protein from fish, eggs, lentils, beans, quinoa, nuts and seeds, and meat for non-vegetarians). It’s also important to remember that once pregnancy occurs, iron supplementation becomes vital. Liquid Floravital, made by Floradix is a gentle iron formula. Iron should be taken separately from the Essentials to improve absorption. A food containing vitamin C is also helpful in aiding iron absorption.
Health and fertility enhancing USANA recommendations for both partners
Below is a list of specific USANA formulations, which, when taken consistently can increase fertility and enhance overall reproductive health by increasing immunity, and organ function.
- Essentials™—A potent combination of two products packaged as one: Mega Antioxidant and Chelated Mineral. These two products work synergistically, protecting the cells from oxidative damage, and providing a broad spectrum of essential nutrients.
- Proflavanol—When it comes to immune health, what most of us are not aware of, is the kind of chronic inflammatory response that ages your entire system, and sets the stage for a number of degenerative diseases without visible symptoms of acute inflammation The Proflavanol formula acts as a potent anti-inflammatory agent, providing a combination of high potency grape seed extract, magnesium and zinc. This formula also helps retain capillary strength, healthy circulation and protects plasma LDL from oxidation. It is a useful formula for everyone, and especially important for women and men with impaired immune function. This is also a must for anyone who has been overtreated with antibiotics. A wonderful formula for fertility related issues linked with endometriosis; also helpful with implantation support, as poor implantation is sometimes linked to uterine inflammation. Proflavanol is an excellent fertility supplement to be used in conjunction with IVF treatments, most specifically after embryo transfer.
- CoQuinone 30—A combination of CoQ10 and alpha lipoic acid. Both compounds are involved in mitochondrial energy metabolism. CoQuinone 30 is a uniquely bioavailable form of CoQ10. CoQ10 has been widely researched and is known for its role in producing cellular energy. I have found that it’s particularly useful to begin supplementing with CoQ10 when healing after a miscarriage. CoQ10 is not recommended for pregnant or lactating women.
- BiOmega—Produced from cold-water, deep-sea fish oil, this formula delivers a balanced daily dose of two key Omega-3 fatty acids in 2 capsules a day. Each capsule also contains 2mg of mixed natural tocopherols, which minimize oxidation of the Omega-3 fatty acids. The added lemon flavoring saves you from a fishy aftertaste. USANA also makes a blend of cold pressed oils called OptOmega, and some women have found them helpful, I do not recommend them. Flax and seed oils tend to become rancid easily and there is significant controversy in the holistic community as to their benefits.
- Hepasil—An excellent comprehensive Liver Support Formula. The liver is the main organ responsible for sweeping out toxins and disposing of excess estrogen, thus playing a key role in establishing hormone balance. For women, I recommend using Hepasil during the pre-conception detoxification stage of your healing regimen and discontinuing once you’re attempting pregnancy. (For additional pre-conception detox tips, refer to Pre-Conception Detox.) Hepacil can also be most useful for men who have been smokers, or consumers of alcohol, sugar, white flour and other depleting foods.
- A Full Spectrum Digestive Enzyme—Every single one of us can benefit form enzyme support, not just people with digestive difficulties, bloating, gas and other symptoms. Although if you are taking Proflavanol, I would give that some time to balance your body’s production of detoxification enzymes before adding more supplements. Your digestive health will also benefit from including some enzyme rich food such as avocado, lacto-fermented vegetables, or olive oil with each meal. And of course, all digestive difficulties are rooted and should be approached with the awareness of the “Human Loaf.” (See the Human Loaf Chapters in The Fertile Female.) Anything less than that is turning a deaf ear on the body’s call for help.
USANA makes an excellent high quality Digestive Enzyme; another brand is Active Digestive Enzyme made by Global Health Trax which you can order through the following link: www.ghthealth.com/167807 or by calling 1-800-305-5710, quote ID number 167807. Enzymedica Digest Gold is also a reliable brand.
- A Comprehensive Probiotic—Again, all of us could benefit from from replenishing the beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract with a comprehensive probiotic, not just people who suffer from digestive difficulties. In addition to the USANA brand, ThreeLac is an excellent probiotic, since it not only supplies 1.5 billion live bacteria in each serving, it also acts as an antifungal agent, helping to reduce occasional yeast and fungal overgrowth. Particularly helpful to anyone suffering from endometriosis, recurring yeast infections, or irregular bowel function. ThreeLac is also made by GHT and you can order it through the following link: www.ghthealth.com/167807 or by calling 1-800-305-5710, quote ID number 167807. Another reliable brand is UDO’s Probiotics. When taking a probiotic, it is imperative to include extra fiber with your meals for efficient release of toxins. Probiotics are not recommended for pregnant or lactating women.
- Active Calcium™—This is a formula designed to complement the Essentials™ by providing a blend of calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D. Calcium is key to producing and activating enzymes and hormones that regulate digestion, energy and fat metabolism. Vitamin D functions both as a hormone and a vitamin, influencing the utilization of phosphorus, another mineral important for strong bones. Vitamin D deficiency is implicated in a host of immune and nervous system disorders. Spending 20 minutes in the sun without sunscreen will also boost your body’s production of vitamin D. This is a most useful formula for anyone over 35 or women with lower estrogen production. Studies have also shown vitamin D deficiency implicated in sperm related difficulties
Additional Fertility Supplements and Brand Recommendations
Depending on your diagnosis, digestive and immune health, you may want to consider reviewing the supplements listed below which are not available through USANA. I have listed brand recommendations next to each formula for anyone seeking guidance on that front.
- A Heavy Metal Detoxifying Agent—This is perhaps the most important supplement to add to all of our healing regimens, but especially for people suffering from allergies and chronic ailments, and people who have had amalgam fillings for a long time. (See Pre-Conception Detox for further guidance.)
Heavy metal contamination, present in the air, water and soil and thus in our bodies, has been implicated in a host of serious health conditions. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, some 70,000 chemicals are used commercially in the US, the majority of them potentially hazardous to our health. Analyzing data from a recent study published in Human Reproduction, a European reproductive medicine journal, a team of UCLA scientists have reported an alarming link between toxic Teflon chemical PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and reproductive problems, fetal development and the increase of cancer risk.
Environmental Working Group (EWG) scientists noted that we should expect to discover more and more links between chemical exposures and impaired reproductive function, childhood cancers, dementia and asthma, among others.
Zeolite is a powerful, naturally occurring detoxifying agent, which I discovered when searching for a remedy for a client with recurring painful herpes symptoms. Zeolite has been used for 800 years throughout Asia as a remedy for overall health. It has a chelation-like effect in removing heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides and other positively charged toxins from the system. It acts as a complement to traditional antioxidants, since it traps free radicals in its complex structure, inactivating and eliminating them. (A traditional antioxidant works by absorbing excess free radicals into its system because it has an unpaired electron.)
Zeolite is commercially available in the product Natural Cellular Defense. There are no reports of side effects, except one: because of its natural action to absorb water, Zeolite can cause dehydration. It is therefore important to drink sufficient water (approximately eight glasses a day) both before and while taking Natural Cellular Defense to ensure adequate hydration. Zeolite is included on the Food and Drug Administration’s GRAS list (generally recognized as safe). Natural Cellular Defense comes in an easy to use dropper bottle. You can order it online at www.mywaiora.com/healthinpeace or by calling 1-866-699-2467. You’ll be asked to provide an ID number: 604547.
- Iron—A gentle, non-constipating formula is essential for anyone with regular menstrual cycles as well as pregnant and lactating women. Floravital, made by Floradix, is a wonderful product, originally recommended by many holistic gynecologists and pediatricians.
- L-arginine—This is an amino acid widely prescribed by holistic practitioners specializing in reproductive health. It has been shown to enhance the secretion of growth hormones by the pituitary gland and to relax the blood vessels, thus increasing blood flow. L-arginine, unlike other supplements, should be taken on an empty stomach. Note: The herpes virus utilizes L-arginine; therefore, supplementation may re-activate the virus.Note: There is much enthusiasm in both the allopathic and holistic world about L-arginine and DHEA, a growth hormone. Any responsible caregiver will agree that fertility supplements that tamper with growth hormones should be approached with caution, and discontinued after a reasonable trial. I strongly recommend DHEA levels be tested before choosing to ingest it as a fertility supplement. You may want to be aware that in some women DHEA might have a thinning effect on the uterine lining and therefore effect implantation. So be sure to have your lining checked if you are using DHEA. I have seen lots of healthy babies, including mine, whose moms did not take DHEA or L-arginine. There are many other ways to encourage blood flow and relaxing our blood vessels.
For more information, see Fertility Supplements Part 3: How and Why, Safety Above All.