Episode 248 Show Notes
Grant and Heavey chat about how to maximize fertility. The desire to have a kid can put a lot of stress on couples. What many don’t know is that there are many things that you can do to prepare in order to improve the baby’s health and reduce risk factors along the way.
There is so much misinformation out there but you need to understand that pregnancy is a medical condition. Hence, the discussion today should not be construed as medical advice. If you’re considering trying to get pregnant, make sure to consult your doctor.
Lastly, we’re bringing the hats back soon. Go to strengthandscotch.com/hats for the next two weeks to preorder them.
[05:20] Understanding Autoimmune Conditions
First off, it’s important that your baseline health is in good shape. Autoimmune conditions could affect the chances of getting pregnant. Some of them include lupus, arthritis, Crohn’s disease, thyroid conditions, and Graves’ disease.
Another condition is amenorrhea where women lose their period. It’s also one component of the condition called female athlete triad common to women who play sports and exercise excessively.
If you don’t have a regular, healthy menstrual cycle then your body might not be in the best position to support pregnancy.
So before you think about supplementing vitamins when you want to get pregnant, make sure you’re healthy. If you’ve been cutting weight, try to back off and maintain your weight instead. Losing weight puts stress on your body which can actually impact your ability to conceive.
You could do things that would help you live your best life even with autoimmune conditions. For instance, you could go on a low-inflammation diet. Of course, this depends on which autoimmune condition you would be suffering from.
[09:15] Low Cal Diets and Infertility
Low-calorie diets can contribute to infertility. Women trying to conceive need to have sufficient calories so they can maintain their weight. Ideally, minimizing processed foods is one way to just be healthy in general, but also having a protein-rich diet with lots of fruits and vegetables.
You also want to make sure there’s a sufficient amount of fat in your diet because fats are used in hormone production. A critical component of pregnancy is hormone health. Once you become pregnant, weight gain is important. This is another side of the coin, since sometimes, women may tend to overeat.
Ultimately, women should focus on healthy eating. The normal weight gain for women during pregnancy is around 25-35 pounds. If you’re bearing twins, this could increase to 35-55 pounds over the course of nine months. If you’re on the obese range, then your increase isn’t necessarily as high.
[11:38] Caloric Requirements During Pregnancy
During the first trimester, you don’t need additional calories, but as you move into the second trimester, this could move up to an additional 200-300 calories per day. Then in the third trimester, caloric intake can gets closer to 400-500 above baseline.
There are individual differences obviously. If you’re underweight and trying to get pregnant, those numbers can be higher; and lower if you’re overweight.
[12:15] Prenatal Vitamins
It’s common practice to take prenatal vitamins, but not all prenatal vitamins are created equally. Although it may come down to individual needs, there is marketing hype behind some of them.
Be careful when choosing products because they can range from low to high quality like anything else. For instance, a product might contain B12, but there are different formulations of B12 and some are much better absorbed than others.
[14:10] What to Look For in Prenatal Vitamins: Folate
Folate is something that gets a lot of attention. However, most products use folic acid instead of folate, which doesn’t have the same effect on the body. The absorption of folate is also dependent on zinc. Hence, you should be getting an adequate amount of zinc to ensure you’re optimally absorbing folate. That being said, focus on looking for a product that actually contains folate.
You can get folate naturally from dietary sources like liver and lentils. Additionally, prenatal vitamins are important since a lot of those nutrients can come out of foods that are not generally consumed within a Western diet.
Recommended daily dose for folate is 400 micrograms per day. This is very important if you’ve ever had a miscarriage or having trouble conceiving.
[16:35] Vitamin B12
As mentioned, Vitamin B12 works with folate to protect against developmental problems in babies. Low levels of B12 have been associated with fertility issues both in males and females. It would then be advisable to have some baseline blood testing done with a practitioner familiar with fertility issues.
Keep in mind, however, that there are cheaper formulations of Vitamin B12. If you see a product labeled with a compound called cyanocobalamin, this is the less absorbed form. Look for something that has methylcobalamin.
[17:25] EPA and DHA
EPA and DHA are fatty acids from fish oil. They’re very important for fetal brain development as well as with perinatal and postpartum depression.
You would want to avoid fish with higher mercury content like shark, swordfish, and king mackerel. The bigger and older the fish, the higher the mercury levels. Instead, opt for relatively younger, fatty fish like salmon.
Another nutrient necessary for fetal brain development, choline is found in liver and egg yolks. The suggested dose is around 500 micrograms per day, which you can get by consuming four egg yolks.
[20:33] Fat-Soluble Vitamins and Other Nutrients
Vitamins A, D, E and K are also super important for fertility. Vitamin A can be considered dangerous by some people during pregnancy but it’s important for fetal development. It has to be balanced with Vitamin D and Vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 is found in pasteurized dairy and organ meats and is helpful for supporting healthy levels of Vitamin A.
The recommended dose for Vitamin D supplementation is 25-50 nanograms per milliliter. Liver and other organ meats are good sources of Vitamin A. Apparently, cod liver oil is a better source as it contains Vitamin D and fish oil as well.
Other nutrients to look for in your prenatal supplements include iron, biotin, glycine, and iodine. Specifically, it’s best to have yourself tested for iron.
[23:40] Maintain Normal Sleep Pattern
Circadian disruption can play a big role in fertility for both men and women. It’s important to maintain a normal sleep pattern. Another big driver for this is exposure to light. It has been shown that shift work can reduce fertility as well as a higher risk of miscarriage due primarily to circadian disruption.
Hence, try to maintain a normal sleep pattern as well as making sure you get enough sun exposure in the morning.
[25:00] Conditions to Prevent or Mitigate
There are certain conditions that develop during pregnancy that you need to prevent or at least mitigate such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
[26:00] Tips When Choosing Supplements
Don’t buy the cheapest product available. Spending money doesn’t necessarily equate to a quality product either.
Look for ingredients highlighted above such as folate instead of folic acid and methylcobalamin instead of cyanocobalamin as those things are only going to be in higher quality products. When you see them, those are great signs that the product should be of higher quality.
The FDA-inspected facility might be another good sign to look for on labels. But really, nothing is bulletproof so there’s an element of trust that goes into this. There are some trusted brands out there so make sure you’re doing your homework.
The vegan stuff isn’t really necessary but if you believe in veganism, then this is something you might want to look out for. But this could also make it difficult for you to get some of the nutrients like choline.
[28:48] Scotch Spotlight: Speyside (Macallan 12)
This episode is highlighting the Macallan 12 from Speyside. In fact, Grant and Heavey are having two different bottles of Macallan 12.
Macallan is in a lot of places so it should be easy to get. But the two highlighted today are going to be around $50-$60. These may not be widely available on the market so try to look for either the Macallan 12 double cask or triple cask. The double cask has French and American oaks that are both sherried while the triple cask adds an ex-Bourbon cask.
So go out and get your bottle of Macallan 12, double cask or triple cask because they will be highlighting those in the next four episodes.
[30:58] Join or Start your Own Whiskey Club
Grant and Heavey recently went to a whiskey tasting event organized by the Southern California Whiskey Club, which was Grant’s second and Heavey’s first experience.
Try to look for whiskey clubs in your area or better yet, start one of your own. Essentially, your group meets up at the backroom of a restaurant. A representative from the distiller comes out (for a nominal fee) and you get to drink whiskey that you can’t normally get your hands on.
Another great idea is to gather your friends whom you can do a monthly whiskey tasting with. You each take turns and put money in the pot so, by the end of the year, everyone gets a fancy bottle.
If you don’t have friends to do with this, Grant highly suggests looking for a whiskey club because it’s so much fun. You learn a lot and get to meet other people who have the same interests as you do. Plus, you get to experience bottles that you probably would have never bought due to their price. With this event, you get to taste them all and compare them side by side.
If you’re in the L.A. area, check out Southern California Whiskey Club. The tasting they did recently is the Compass Box, a very interesting distillery.
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