Nutrition and Male Fertility

Just over the last 50 years, male sperm counts have declined rapidly. Because the decline in sperm production is relatively recent, one must suspect a combination of environmental, lifestyle, and dietary factors might be interfering with spermatogenesis. (Sinclair, 2000)

Eating a nutrient dense diet can help to not only prevent damage to sperm, but can also help to promote sperm health.

Nutritional Therapies:

Carnitine

Carnitine contributes directly to sperm motility and may be involved in the successful maturation of sperm.

Red meat is one of the highest sources of L-carnitine, at about 56-162 mg per serving. L-carnitine can also be found in foods like pork, seafood, and chicken, but at much lower levels, between 3 and 7 mg per serving. Dairy, like ice cream, milk and cheese, has between 3 and 8 mg per serving.

Zinc

Zinc is a trace mineral essential for normal functioning of the male reproductive system. Numerous biochemical mechanisms are zinc dependent, including more than 200 enzymes in the body. Zinc deficiency is associated with decreased testosterone levels and sperm count. An adequate amount of zinc ensures proper sperm motility and production.

The best sources of zinc are seafood, meat, seeds, and cooked dried beans, peas and lentils.

Vitamin C

Studies have shown the concentration of ascorbic acid in seminal plasma directly reflects dietary intake, and lower levels of vitamin C may lead to infertility and increased damage to the sperm’s genetic material.

Citrus fruits (orange, grapefruit, lime, and lemon) are excellent sources of vitamin C. Many non-citrus fruits are highly rated sources, as well. Papaya, strawberries, pineapple, kiwifruit, cantaloupe, and raspberries are also excellent vitamin C sources.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a well-documented antioxidant and has been shown to inhibit free radical-induced damage to sensitive cell membranes. Studies have shown that the combination of Vitamin E and Selenium significantly increased sperm motility and the overall percentage of normal spermatozoa.

Vitamin E is found mainly in foods that contain fat like margarine, vegetable oil, wheat germ, nuts, nut butters, and seeds.

Coenzyme Q-10

In sperm cells, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is concentrated in the mitochondrial mid-piece, where it is involved in energy production. It also functions as an antioxidant, preventing lipid peroxidation of sperm membranes.

CoQ10 is naturally found in high levels in organ meats such as liver, kidney, and heart, as well as in beef, sardines, and mackerel. Vegetable sources of CoQ10 include spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is important in cellular replication, especially for the synthesis of RNA and DNA, and deficiency states have been associated with decreased sperm count and motility.

Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products, including fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and milk products.