Nutrition for Egg Freezing with Guest Fertility Dietitian Nick Nation
This article is co-written by Lora Attia and Nick Nation
Nick is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Accredited Sports Dietitian specialising in fertility nutrition. He is also a regular guest on Channel 9 News Perth as their nutrition expert.
Nick has a special interest in women’s reproductive conditions including polycystic ovarian syndrome and endometriosis. He has a real passion for helping couples conceive naturally, and enhancing assisted reproduction technologies such as IVF and ovulation induction through nutrition. Now you can see why I choose Nick to help me share 5 evidenced based nutrition tips for women considering egg freezing.
For various personal, financial or medical reasons women are choosing to freeze their eggs. The process allows a woman to preserve her eggs until she is in a position where she chooses to use them. As a woman ages not only does her egg count reduce but also egg quality. This occurs more rapidly over the 30-35 years. This is where egg quality becomes particularly important as damage to women’s eggs also includes damage that occurs to the DNA inside the egg. This delicate genetic material, once impacted cannot be healed. This can be contributed to by ageing, pollution, obesity, smoking, alcohol and psychological stress. The research shows high-quality eggs have a better chance of fertilization, normal embryo development and overall pregnancy success. Focusing on the health of our eggs can be improved by diet and lifestyle changes. If you have been told that egg health may be of concern or you are planning on freezing your eggs then do not delay working with a fertility dietitian. Through personalized and targeted nutrition, egg quality can be improved. It is recommended that nutrition is enhanced for at least one month prior to egg collection, and or conception.
Here are our top 5 diet and lifestyle tips to consider before egg collection
1. Ensure you are getting adequate amounts of Zinc in your diet
Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a fundamental role in antioxidant pathways and is needed for embryo development and fertilisation. Research has shown that an oocyte becomes ravenous for zinc and requires 50% more zinc for the egg to reach full maturity.
A fertility dietitian will help to analyse your diet to ensure you are adequate amounts of zinc from your diet as testing for zinc in the blood isn't reliable. Foods high in zinc include:
2. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
Also known as ubiquinone, it's a naturally occurring chemical found in most body cells. CoQ10 plays a vital role in energy production, and also acts as an antioxidant by neutralizing free radicals. Free radicals, in excess, can impact egg quality by altering DNA. In this way, CoQ10 helps protect egg quality from the harmful effects of DNA damage. Unfortunately, like most things in life, as we get older, our ability to produce CoQ10 declines. However, the good news is you can get CoQ10 from foods including:
Nuts and seeds
It also comes in supplemental form. A 2015 study by Ben-Meir et al found that declining levels of CoQ10 can lead to age-associated causes of infertility. The researchers also found that supplementing CoQ10 can help to reverse age-related effects on egg quality. CoQ10 has also been found to help fertility outcomes with younger women. A 2018 study conducted by Xu et al found that women pre-treated with CoQ10 undergoing IVF treatment had higher fertilisation rates and produced more high-quality eggs compared to the non-treatment group.
3. Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio
The omega 3’s in oily fish have been found to support egg quality, hormone function, and overall female reproductive health.
A 2012 study by Nehra et al, found that omega-3 fatty acids may provide an effective and practical avenue for delaying ovarian aging and improving egg quality at advanced maternal age. Interestingly, the authors found that a diet rich in omega-6 fatty acids is associated with very poor reproductive success at advanced maternal age.
Sources of Omega 6 Include:
Safflower and sunflower oils
Fatty cuts of meat
Although many foods rich in omega 6 are actually good for. These include:
100% peanut butter
It’s the ratio between omega 3 and omega 6 that counts. Therefore, a strong focus on consuming long chain omega 3’s like DHA and EPA from oily fish helps to swing the omega 3: omega 6 ratio back in the favour of egg quality. Find more great tips for egg health and ovulation induction here
4. Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs)
We’ve all heard how overweight/obesity can impact on our metabolic health (eg blood glucose levels, cholesterol etc…). Well did you know there’s something else that can negatively impact our metabolic health regardless of weight status? Let me introduce you to Advanced Glycation End Products, or AGEs. AGEs accumulate with...you guessed it - age. They form when we combine fat or protein with sugar in our blood stream. You can also eat them. Foods that have been cooked at high temperatures, for example steak on the bbq, or chicken on the frying pan tend to be high in AGEs.
Our body can get rid of AGEs, however, when we eat too many AGEs using high temperature cooking, or they naturally form due to a highly refined carbohydrate diet, your body can’t keep up with the intake. In terms of fertility, high levels of AGEs in the fluid surrounding the egg are associated with reductions in ovarian reserve and therefore higher infertility rates.
Boiling, microwaving, and poaching to avoid overheating of foods
Avoid consuming heavily char grilled foods
Adopt a Mediterranean-style meal pattern helps to reduce circulating levels of sugar in the blood associated with AGE formation
5. Optimise Vitamin D levels
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is best obtained by direct sunlight and is found in smaller amounts in food such as
Food fortified with vitamin D (e.g. some milks)
Here in Australia 1 in 4 adults are low in vitamin D but in my clinic almost every client has suboptimal levels. This is important to correct because research shows that optimal levels of vitamin D in the follicular fluid surrounding the eggs results in better IVF outcomes and pregnancy rates. We also know that Vitamin D plays many other important roles with regards to reproductive hormones and health, so it is important to get a health check and know your levels. It is important to seek correct dosage guidance from your health professional as toxicity can occur with vitamin D due to its nature.
Need help tailored to you?
To connect with Nick Nation (www.nutritionnation.com.au)
Nick currently sees clients in his private rooms at: