Vegan diets and fertility
Increasingly women are becoming vegan for a lifestyle choice, but my concern here is for fertility. You need to manage your diet really carefully to get the right amount of protein as it’s not only your hormones and the neurotransmitters in your brain that need protein – eggs and sperm need it, too. High-quality protein, such as from lean meat and poultry, as well as fish, eggs and soya beans, contains all eight essential amino acids. These are biological catalysts that enable protein to break down and become what the body needs – be that muscle or other tissue, egg, sperm, neurotransmitter or hormone. Your body can’t manufacture these amino acids for itself (which is why they are essential), so they must come from your diet. Include one portion (about the size of your fist) of protein in every meal. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you’ll need a full range of plant proteins to ensure that you get all the essential amino acids.
Beans, leafy greens, pulses, nuts and seeds are all good sources, and I’d also encourage you to use protein powders – including hemp, pea and sprouted-seed-based powders. Finally, be aware that you may be more prone to other nutritional deficiencies that can affect fertility – including low levels of iodine, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. Supplement with a multivitamin and -mineral formula to make sure that you keep all your vitamin and mineral levels up, and you may also need to take a specific vitamin B12 supplement, too.