Mediterranean diet can boost infertility treatment success

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A recent analysis has highlighted the potential benefits of a Mediterranean diet for women undergoing In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatment.

Published in Reproductive Biomedicine Online, the study conducted by Professor Roger Hart from the University of Western Australia and City Fertility, Perth, Australia, compared the effectiveness of various nutritional supplements and diets thought to improve IVF outcomes.

During IVF, many women turn to adjuvant therapies, including nutritional supplements, in the hope of increasing their chances of conception. However, the quality and consistency of evidence supporting the effectiveness of these supplements are varied.

The study analyzed nine commonly used nutritional supplements, such as dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), melatonin, co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ1O), selenium, and Vitamin D, along with several diets.

Professor Hart pointed out that the use of nutritional supplements in IVF is largely self-medicated, often purchased online or over-the-counter, making solid data on usage difficult to determine.

Despite their popularity on online forums, the evidence from studies on supplements like DHEA and CoQ10, although somewhat positive, is not conclusive.

Similarly, while there is some evidence supporting the benefits of melatonin, it is unclear which patient groups might benefit the most.

In contrast, the Mediterranean diet emerges as a more compelling option, supported by well-designed randomized clinical trials.

These trials have shown significant benefits in embryo development and pregnancy outcomes, even with short-term interventions of six weeks.

The Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, fish, and healthy oils, and low in processed foods, saturated fats, sugar, and sodium. It is high in B-vitamins, antioxidants, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and fiber.

Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, often taken as supplements, were also part of the study. Omega-3s, known for their general health and reproductive benefits, showed potential in improving clinical outcomes and embryo quality in IVF.

However, the evidence from a major review of antioxidants in reproduction (covering 63 studies) was of low quality and did not demonstrate a significant impact on the live birth rate.

Professor Hart recommends adopting a Mediterranean diet as a simple and effective nutritional approach for women seeking to conceive through IVF.

For women who have previously had a poor response to ovarian stimulation, supplements like COQ-10 and DHEA may be useful adjuncts. Additionally, omega-3 free-fatty acids may improve clinical and embryological outcomes.

Importantly, Professor Hart advises all women attempting to conceive to take adequate folate supplementation and consult their general practitioner or specialist to ensure optimal health for conception.

This study underscores the importance of a balanced diet and general health in the journey of conception, particularly for those undergoing IVF treatment.

If you care about nutrition, please read studies that vitamin D can help reduce inflammation, and vitamin K may lower your heart disease risk by a third.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about foods that could sharp your brain, and results showing cooking food in this way may raise your risk of blindness.

The research findings can be found in Reproductive BioMedicine Online.

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