3 Dietary Tips To Support Progesterone level
What is progesterone?
Progesterone is a steroid hormone that plays an essential role in reproduction. It is responsible for preparing the endometrial lining for embryo implantation and the embryo’s growth during the first few weeks of pregnancy.
Progesterone helps ensure nutrients are delivered to the embryo and assists in developing the placenta in early pregnancy. Once fully developed, the placenta secretes progesterone to aid in the growth of the foetus and maternal breast tissue. It also works to prevent lactation and prepare the pelvis for the baby’s delivery.
This blog post will show you how to increase progesterone to get pregnant. Although the evidence is still lacking, here are a few dietary tips based on the current best available evidence:
Zinc is an essential nutrient to support ovulation and fertilisation. Our body needs zinc to make proteins and DNA, the genetic material in all cells. Zinc also plays a role in the metabolism and regulation of several hormones, including estrogen and progesterone.
Zinc deficiency can pose several risks during pregnancy, including unexplained pregnancy loss, extended pregnancy or prematurity, malformations, preeclampsia, and retarded growth.
Our body can’t store zinc, and a daily intake of zinc is required to maintain a steady-state. Zinc is widely distributed in foods. Meats, fish and poultry are the major contributors to the diet in Australia, but cereals and dairy foods also contribute substantial amounts. Foods that are rich sources of zinc include:
- Sun-dried tomatoes
- Red meat, e.g. lamb and beef
- Cashew nuts
You may be at risk of zinc deficiency if:
- You have a digestive disorder such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and short bowel syndrome, decreasing zinc absorption.
- You’re a vegetarian. The bioavailability of zinc from vegetarian diets is lower than non-vegetarian diets and may require at least 50% more zinc intake.
- During pregnancy, zinc requirement increases, and lactation can deplete maternal zinc stores.
If you are concerned that your zinc levels may be below, you can always discuss this further with your fertility dietitian.
2. Vitamin C
A randomised control study was conducted in Japan to determine the effect of vitamin C supplementation in women with luteal phase defects, a condition whereby the corpus luteum in the ovary does not release enough progesterone resulting in spontaneous miscarriage and pregnancy loss. Women who had low progesterone are often also associated with thin endometrium.
The study found that daily supplementation of vitamin C significantly increased progesterone levels in patients with luteal phase defects, likely due to the antioxidant effects of the nutrient. The clinical pregnancy rate was significantly higher in the vitamin C supplementation group. However, it is not known what amount of vitamin c supplementation is best to treat luteal phase defects.
The best way to get enough vitamin C from your diet is to consume sufficient amounts of fruits and vegetables every day. Fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamin C include:
- Rocket or arugula
- Brussels sprout
- Pawpaw or papaya
- Custard apple
In a prospective study of prominent healthy young women, the authors found that dietary selenium was significantly associated with lower odds of luteal phase defects. Selenium may play an essential role to increase progesterone to the right level to get pregnant. More research is needed.
It is important to note that too much selenium from diet or supplement can be harmful. For example, brazil nuts contain a very high amount of selenium (~68 – 91 mcg per nut) – just having five brazil nuts alone can exceed the daily upper limit of no more than 400 mcg per day. Other sources of selenium are:
- Canned tuna
- Chicken egg yolk
Lastly, maintaining a healthy body weight, managing your stress level and avoiding over-exercising are other lifestyle factors that can support a healthy progesterone level while trying to conceive.
Need more help? I’ve worked with many women and couples to create a personalised pre-conception nutrition plan tailored to your health conditions and nutritional needs.
With all my love ,