Can eating Brazil nuts help you conceive?

Brazil nuts are rich in selenium: a mineral which is said to boost sperm health and aid conception. But what's the truth behind the rumours? We ask fertility experts and a dietician...

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In a nutshell

Brazil nuts – as part of a balanced diet – help to keep your body healthy, which gives you the best chance of conceiving.

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However, there’s no large-scale research to prove that Brazil nuts are a magic snack that’ll make you more likely to get pregnant.

That said, there is some evidence to suggest it can impact male fertility, and benefit women during pregnancy. So, there’s no reason why you can’t add a few brazil nuts to your diet to see if it helps.

They’re not harmful in moderation, as a few of our MFMers found when they tried it…

How could Brazil nuts aid conception?

Might seem a bit weird, the idea that eating a couple of Brazil nuts could somehow help you get pregnant.

Brazil nuts are full of a mineral called selenium, which is an antioxidant known to boost your immune system and keep your thyroid health ticking over – among other things.

The popular internet theory goes that selenium also contributes to the thickening of your uterine wall – which would aid the embryo implanting, and you becoming pregnant.

It’s also oft-reported that selenium can help increase blood flow to your ovaries and your womb, which would also, in theory, help up your chances of conceiving.

Also, as Komal Kumar, Senior Dietitian at the Lister Fertility Clinic, part of HCA Healthcare UK, explains:

“Selenium is a trace element nutritionally essential for humans and a constituent of more than 2 dozen selenoproteins that play critical roles in reproduction, thyroid hormone metabolism, DNA synthesis, and protection from oxidative damage and infection.”

Generally, selenium’s also thought to be good for sperm mobility and health.

Our mums share their experience

When you’re desperate to get pregnant, anything seems like it’s worth a try if it’ll help you get that Big Fat Positive [BFP].

Lots of our MFM forum fans confessed to eating 5 Brazil nuts a day, even though they were unsure if it was having the desired benefit.

Sammy J confessed: “Do you think if someone told us to stand on our heads and it would help we would do it? Lol! ‘Cos I’ve been eating them and not knowing why the hell I am!!!” 

Lillyr shared: “Glad I’m not the only one! I’ve also been eating 5 every day for ages, but wasn’t really sure why! Although from what some people have said, it seems we should be getting the men to eat them – if they’re good for the swimmers.”

Though one of our users claims she found out she was pregnant shortly after adding Brazil nuts to her diet.

“I had been TTC [trying to conceive] for 7 months and on the 7th month I started eating Brazil nuts,” says BabyBlue1980. “Five a day, but got so sick of them I only managed to eat them for about 3 days during the 2-week wait [to take a pregnancy test].

“I got my BFP on month 7. Don’t know if it was due to the brazil nuts or the pre-seed I had purchased.

“They also say that your [partner] should be eating them as well because it helps the sperm.”

So, is it just a coincidence? Or could selenium in Brazil nuts really affect female and male fertility?

What the experts say

Specialist Dietician and British Dietetic Association (BDA) Spokesperson Nicole Rothband told us that there’s no conclusive scientific evidence about brazil nuts and their effect on female fertility – sadly.

However, they are generally good for your health. She says: “Brazil nuts are a good source of selenium and generally people’s diets tend to be low in selenium.

“It is an important mineral for thyroid function which can have a role in fertility. Nuts generally can improve lipid profile which is good for overall cardiovascular health.”

She did add that the best way to boost your chances of conceiving was not to focus on ‘hero foods’ and instead to focus on a generally healthy diet.

Nicole also reckons making good lifestyle choices (so no smoking or drinking, exercising, getting a good night’s sleep and avoiding stress) is another thing to focus on.

Komal also points out that you shouldn’t overeat brazil nuts in an attempt to boost your chances – though there is some suggestion that they do have their benefits in moderation:

“The UK reference nutrient intake (RNI) for selenium is 75 ug/day (for men) and 60 ug/day (for women) and is associated with improving male fertility while providing immunity benefits in pregnancy.

“Selenium is dense in brazil nuts, providing 68–91 mcg per nut (almost 100%). Since this nutrient is not water soluble, when taken excessively cannot be flushed out of our system which might lead to toxicity.

“Excessive intake of brazil nuts could potentially do more harm than good. Based on toxicity studies carried out using liquid supplementation, acute selenium toxicity can cause hair loss as well as severe gastrointestinal and neurological complications as well.

“I would advise women trying to conceive to ensure their pre-conception supplementation (any vitamins you take) does not provide an overdose already.

“Brazil nuts in moderation (6 to 8) a couple of times a week would be great snack as they are rich in protein, essential fatty acids and meet the requirements of selenium. I would recommend these as a tasty alternative to synthetic supplementation of selenium.”

Nicole adds that it may be worth dad-to-be-hopefuls enjoying many types of nut as a healthy snack, adding: “One Spanish study found improved sperm motility in men who snacked regularly on nuts.”

Have your say

Did you find eating Brazil nuts made a difference when you were trying to conceive? Or did you find it a waste of time? We’re curious to hear your experiences either way.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, on Instagram or on Facebook.

Images: Getty Images

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