If taking a daily vitamin and mineral supplement is not on your preconception to-do list you might want to add it, because it could put your pregnancy plans on the fast track.
You already know that folic acid supplements are a preconception must-do to prevent neural tube defects, but a study from Great Britain found that women who take a daily multivitamin may speed up the success of fertility treatments.
How fast? In the study of 56 female fertility patients, half of the women were given a multivitamin and mineral supplement to take each day and the other half were given folic acid (the multivitamin also contained folic acid). When women underwent fertility treatments a month later, those taking multivitamins were more likely to conceive and 60 percent were still pregnant three months later compared to 25 percent of the folic acid-only group, reports the UK's Daily Telegraph. Women taking multivitamins were also more likely to become pregnant in less time—75 percent conceived after their first cycle of treatments, compared with less than 20 percent of women on folic acid.
Researchers believe that if multivitamins help women who require fertility treatments, they may just work for other mamas-in-waiting, too! Because no negative side effects from taking the vitamins were detected (and folic acid actually has a beneficial side effect for babies), scientists now say that all women should consider taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement as part of routine preconception care.
But do you need you need a multivitamin if you are already eating a healthy diet? According to the researchers, the answer is still yes. In this study, all women were already following a healthy diet, but despite eating well, blood tests still showed that those taking multivitamins had higher levels of micronutrients.
And does the type of multivitamin matter? Women in this study used a "preconception multivitamin" that contained vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other substances thought to be helpful for ovarian function and blood flow to the reproductive organs. Researchers still aren't sure, however, which individual ingredients gave fertility such a big boost.