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Fertility refers to the ability to conceive children. Infertility is defined as the failure to conceive after one year of regular intercourse without the use of contraception.

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It is estimated that the prevalence rate of infertility is 12% in the U.S.1 The National Survey of Family Growth estimated that 1.2 million women have sought medical advice regarding infertility in 2002 and 10% received infertility services at some point. A World Health Organization Study revealed that in developed countries, 37% of fertility cases were due to female factors, 8% due to males, 35% due to both, and 5% were unknown.

The causes/risk factors of infertility include:

  • Age
  • Genetics
  • Low body mass index with calorie restriction (seen in athletes and anorexics)
  • Excess insulin levels (seen in obesity and polycystic ovarian syndrome)
  • Standard American diet with low micronutrient intake, high saturated/trans fat, refined carbohydrate, and animal product consumption
  • Tobacco use
  • Alcohol use
  • Heavy metal and chemical exposures
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Female factors such as endocrine disruption, anatomic defects of the reproductive organs, and endometriosis
  • Male factors such as low sperm count, anatomic defects of reproductive organs, endocrine disorders

Diet and lifestyle have a major impact in a couple’s ability to conceive. A Nutritarian diet has been very successful at increasing fertility.

  1. Louis JF, Thoma ME, Sorensen DN, et al. The prevalence of couple infertility in the United States from a male perspective: evidence from a nationally representative sample. Andrology 2013, 1:741-748.

Action Plan


  • The treatment of infertility will vary based on the cause; however, because many cases have an unknown etiology, a nutritional approach may be most helpful.
  • A Nutritarian diet will help achieve ideal body weight and reduce chemical and heavy metal exposures by reducing animal product intake. Many elements of a Nutritarian diet supply plant material that binds and removes toxins and toxic metals and help regulate glucose and insulin levels.
  • Excessive calorie restriction can cause malnutrition, leading to infertility. Sufficient calories and sufficient micronutrients are essential. Some people may need higher fat plant foods, such as nuts, seeds, and avocados, and more legumes and starchy vegetables. Some women over exercise and may need to exercise less.
  • A folic acid-free multivitamin with additional zinc, B12, Vitamin D, and iodine can be helpful for both males and females to assure adequate levels.
  • It is important that the diet be rich in greens and folate and synthetic folic acid from supplements be avoided.
  • Ensure adequate DHA and EPA intake with a clean supplement, not fish, which could expose one to increased dioxin and mercury.


  • Moderate exercise daily will increase fertility.
  • Stress reduction through counseling, meditation, and exercise is helpful.
  • Avoid the use of saunas and hot tubs.
  • Have intercourse during days 10-18 of the menstrual cycle.

Find additional help

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Ask The Doctor

The following are sample questions from the Ask the Doctor Community Platinum and higher members can post their health questions directly to Dr. Fuhrman. (All members can browse questions and answers.)


My husband and I are planning to start trying for our first baby. What would you advise regarding supplements for someone on a Nutritarian diet? Do you find that your patients ever get too thin on this diet to be successful conceiving? I am currently a muscular 147 pounds, 5 feet 6 inches. I feel I need to lose 20 pounds (28 according to ETL) but am worried I will have conception issues.


The general dietary protocol when following a Nutritarian diet for the overweight recommends about one to two ounces of seeds/nuts per day. For pregnancy and nursing I recommend at least 2 ounces a day of seeds and nuts (higher fat diet).

It is okay to consume just 1 oz. for now, and then as you approach a healthier, lower weight, start to increase the seeds in your diet to prevent your weight from dropping below 125 pounds. Likely because of your muscular build and exercise, your body will level off at such a favorable weight. I think if you do a body fat analysis, you will find that you will be much healthier at a lower weight and body fat percentage.

Lots of women have found that eating this way increases their fertility and I have seen many people who could not get pregnant finally conceive. Many infertility doctors even recommend my books for their patients trying to get pregnant.

As far as supplements go, you should take, daily, two Gentle Prenatal and 0.75 ml DHA/EPA Purity.


My wife and I have been trying to conceive for quite some time now without success. At the last check-up we were both within normal range on all things. My wife recently went to see a doctor who advised her to take two supplements which may improve chances of conceiving: Co-Q10 and DHEA. What is your view on whether these supplements are helpful?

In general, what supplements, if any, do you recommend for couples trying to conceive (for men as well as for women)?


I do not recommend DHEA, but CoQ10 is fine, though neither will likely increase her likelihood of conceiving. DHEA is a steroid hormone that should only be prescribed in a deficiency or autoimmune illness. Your body makes plenty of CoQ10 on a Nutritarian diet and though it is not dangerous to take it, it is a waste of her money.

A Nutritarian diet, with adequate intake of G-BOMBS and healthy fats from nuts and seeds, will foster fertility. As far as supplements go, your wife should take my Gentle Prenatal vitamin which includes 1500 IU vitamin D and DHA/EPA Purity and you should take my Men’s Daily and DHA/EPA Purity, then you will assure adequate Vitamin D, B12, iodine, zinc, and in her case a little extra iron. The small amount of DHA/EPA can assure adequacy because we want to avoid fish with the typical contaminants it usually contains, such as dioxin, other PCBS, and mercury.