Daily fruit smoothie helps couples trying to start a family
- Drinks containing vitamin D and omega 3 raise the chances by almost 5%
- They boost sperm and womb quality, allowing an extra woman in 23 to conceive
- The drink contains the same omega 3 as a salmon fillet and single vitamin D dose
- People are more likely to remember to drink smoothies than take tablets
- The researchers hope the drinks could eventually be recommended by doctors
A daily diet of smoothies has been found to help couples start a family.
A fruit smoothie drink containing vitamin D and omega 3 raises the chances by almost five per cent, a British study has found.
The boost it gives sperm and womb quality helps the equivalent of an extra woman in every 23 becoming pregnant through IVF.
Researchers say the drink, which contains the same omega 3 as a portion of salmon and a single supplement dose of vitamin D, will also work for couples trying naturally for a child.
Although the smoothie is made specially by scientists, men and women could get the same effect by eating salmon and a multivitamin.
However a study of 102 couples led by Southampton University found the smoothies, taken for six weeks before starting IVF, were remembered by couples who might forget a tablet or be too lazy to follow a healthy diet.
Lead researcher Dr Alexandra Kermack, who presented the study at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) conference in Geneva, said: ‘Previous research shows that omega 3 is absolutely vital for sperm, making them stronger swimmers, and vitamin D makes the womb more receptive and “sticky” for the embryo to implant.
‘The problem is getting people to consume them, but the smoothie is a really good way of getting nutrients into people.
‘They are so fashionable and you just take them out of the fridge every morning, where previous studies show people tend to forget tablets.’
Smoothies containing omega 3, found in oily fish, and the ‘sunshine vitamin’, also in leafy vegetables, have already been trialled for people with cancer, heart disease and chronic lung conditions.
How the study was carried out
The first study to test it on infertile couples asked both men and women to drink a 200ml smoothie with a clementine fruit flavour every day for a month and a half before IVF.
In the six weeks until the woman’s eggs were harvested and fertilised with her partner’s sperm, half the group drank a smoothie containing the two grams of omega 3 and 10 micrograms of vitamin D, along with vitamin C and folic acid, while the other half consumed an ordinary fruit drink.
The group drinking the special fertility smoothie, made by the research team to mimic a Mediterranean diet and consumed along with olive oil and olive oil spread, were 4.3 per cent more likely than the other half to conceive.
The scientists were able to find out why by testing 750 embryos taken from the couples to find out how they developed.
How smoothies help
The embryo starts as one cell, the fertilised egg, and divides into about 200 cells before being implanted into a woman to become a foetus and then a healthy baby.
A healthy embryo likely to get a woman pregnant grows more quickly around day three, when five cells become nine.
In an indication that the embryos of couples drinking the special smoothies were more fertile, their embryos reached this stage on average almost six hours faster than the placebo group, who unknowingly consumed sunflower oil and sunflower spread with their drinks.
The embryos were more likely to get a women pregnant, having a score given by doctors for this of 3.5 compared to 2.5 for those who did not consume the fertility smoothies - the equivalent of eight women in 23, rather than seven, falling pregnant.
The researchers hope the drinks could eventually be recommended by doctors and available for couples to buy.
The study, published in the journal Human Reproduction, also found people stuck to the diet plan, with more than 96 per cent of women and 94 per cent of the men consuming the smoothies every day.
An Italian study published in the journal Andrology last year found that omega 3, found in the smoothies, helped sperm to swim faster, improving its chances of fertilising an egg.
What the experts say
Dr Kermack said: ‘We know sperm also looks better when it includes DHA, a form of omega 3, which makes sperm healthier looking - not too flat in the head and without a kink in its tail, so it can swim properly.
‘This study suggests that a smoothie containing omega 3, vitamin D and all-important folic acid improves the chances of pregnancy and we hope this could in future be recommended to infertile couples trying to conceive.’
Susan Seenan, chief executive of Fertility Network UK, said: ‘When you’re struggling and failing to become pregnant, the vast majority of people say they will try anything to improve their chances of success.
‘Fertility advice starts with having a healthy lifestyle so, given the intriguing initial clinical data around drinking fruit smoothies to improve IVF success, it is likely many couples will consider such drinks as something else to try.
‘However, as with all new research, we want to see robust clinical trials taking place.