Article by Angela Haldane

Q. We'd like to try for a baby soon and I hear it's important to prepare in the preconception phase. What do you suggest?

A. This is an exciting moment, and a time for you both to get in optimum health. To ensure you get a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals, eat organic foods, a wide variety of fruits, nuts, vegetables and seeds, and good quality protein.

Try to maintain the correct body weight for your height.

Visit the dentist, in case you need X-rays.

If you smoke, quit now, and cut right back on coffee and alcohol.

Take a quality peri-natal multi-vitamin supplement containing the necessary elements to support pregnancy (a practitioner range is best).

Folic acid 800mcg is also necessary to prevent neural tube defects.

If conception is taking a while or if you're in your 30s or older, you should seek professional advice sooner rather than later. Charting the cycle provides vital information for the practitioner; he/she can advise you on how to do this. You can do routine blood tests, and there are more specific tests once you have conceived. You should consider both the man and woman in this equation; sperm are sensitive to free radicals, and respond well to antioxidant support such as vitamins A, C, E and selenium. Zinc is also important for numbers and motility of sperm.