Eating a bowl of cereal could help you get pregnant


Last updated at 22:00 18 May 2007

A bowl of cereal for breakfast or a baked potato for lunch could help a woman conceive.

Research has found that eating foods rich in vitamin B6 can more than double the chances of becoming pregnant.

Women who have plenty of the vitamin in their diet are also only half as likely to miscarry their baby in the critical first weeks of pregnancy.

With millions of women already taking vitamin B6 supplements to combat premenstrual syndrome and alleviate morning sickness, the study adds to the evidence of the vitamin's role in reproductive health.

It is thought that B6 - which is found in high levels in potatoes, fortified cereals, bananas, milk, eggs, and poultry - plays a key role in the development of the placenta.

The U.S. researchers looked at how levels of vitamin B6 affected the reproductive health of more than 300 healthy young women in south-western China who were trying for a baby.

Scientists measured levels of vitamin in the women's blood and checked their hormone levels every day for a year.

The results revealed a clear link between vitamin B6 and conception.

Those with the highest levels of the vitamin were 2.2 times more likely to conceive than those with the lowest levels.

The women were also half as likely to miscarry in the first six weeks of pregnancy, the American Journal of Epidemiology reported.

Earlier work by the same researchers showed that the vitamin appeared to ward off miscarriages later in pregnancy and halve the risk of premature birth.

The University of Massachusetts researchers said: "Taken in their entirety, these observations suggest that maternal vitamin B6 status may influence reproductive events through the entire course of pregnancy, from conception through delivery."

The researchers did not recommend how much vitamin B6 prospective mothers-to-be should take.

However, the Food Standard Agency advises women to take 1.2mg of the vitamin a day, and says this is possible with a balanced diet.

It advises against taking daily supplements of more than 10mg, as high levels of the vitamin have been linked to loss of feeling in the arms and legs.

Other recent research has shown that a low-fat diet can dramatically cut the chances of pregnancy.

The study, carried out at the Harvard School of Public Health, showed that drinking a pint of semi-skimmed or skimmed milk or eating two pots of yoghurt a day almost doubles the risk of anovulatory infertility.

Anovulatory infertility is an increasingly common condition in which women stop ovulating.

Eating full-fat dairy products has the opposite effect.

A bowl of ice cream a day was found to be enough to boost the chance of having a child.

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