Food for fertility

If you are trying to conceive then a healthy diet of oysters, pumpkin seeds, and nuts may help. What these foods have in common is that they are good sources of zinc. It has been well known that sperm require adequate zinc levels to boost their numbers and give them a kick in their tail but now a new study has found that a woman’s eggs are also hungry for this handy mineral.

Working with mice the researchers used an x-ray technique (synchrotron-based X-ray fluorescence microscopy) to track zinc. They discovered that just before maturing a female’s egg requires a 50 per cent increase in the amounts of zinc that it is receiving. This flood of zinc apparently triggers a “switch” that allows the egg to progress through meiosis.

Meiosis is the phase in which the egg sheds all but one copy of its maternal chromosomes so that it can be fertilised and become an embryo.

Of the many eggs that exist in an ovary only a few hundred ever mature and they require zinc for this crucial maturation final phase. The x-ray results showed that just before a mouse egg is ready to be fertilised there are 60 billion zinc atoms present. If there is a lack of zinc then eggs do not progress into the final stages of meiosis.

Zinc is an important mineral overall. It is central to immune function, the manufacture of many hormones, and the progress of many enzyme reactions throughout the body. Your eyes, skin, and sense of taste all depend on zinc. This mineral is necessary for overall health but for those who are intending to conceive its role in sperm health and egg maturation makes it a vital part of your diet. Perhaps some oysters in a nice pumpkin seed and pecan sauce might be a welcome addition to the evening’s menu (no responsibility taken for the taste of this particular combination!).

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The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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