When it comes to getting pregnant, almost all of the attention is directed to women. Intense focus is given to nutrition and making choices that increase the odds of conception. Obviously, future fathers play a crucial role in the baby-making process, too, and that requires healthy sperm. Getting plenty of certain vitamins is an essential part of reaching this goal.
Vitamin C alone probably won't improve sperm quality or decrease fertility problems, but it's part of the equation, wrote Jonny Bowden in "The 100 Healthiest Foods to Eat During Pregnancy." Oral vitamin C supplementation, however, might help. Patients who took 1,000 milligrams of oral vitamin C per day experienced an increase in sperm count and sperm motility, according to a 2006 article by Mo Akmal and others in the "Journal of Medicinal Food." Improved sperm count means that there will be more sperm with the potential to fertilize an egg and increased sperm motility means that the sperm is healthy and strong enough to make it all the way to an egg. Citrus fruits, berries, kiwifruit, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and red bell peppers are food sources of vitamin C.
Vitamin D won't improve sperm health on its own, but it's an important part of the formula. Low levels of vitamin D can have a negative effect on the overall health of sperm, as well as sperm count and sperm motility, according to a November 2012 article by Ahmad O Hammoud, et al., in the "Asian Journal of Andrology." The article also mentions that high levels of vitamin D can have negative effects on sperm. Ask your doctor what an appropriate amount of vitamin D is for you before starting a supplement. Drinking milk or eating fortified foods, such as yogurt or breakfast cereal, will help increase your intake of vitamin D, as well.
One contributing factor to infertility is the quality of sperm. Because vitamin E plays a critical role in protecting cells from damage, it stands to reason that the nutrient is also essential in producing healthy sperm cells. Using vitamin E supplements, particularly when combined with selenium supplements, might improve the quality of sperm, according to a 2011 article by Mohammad K Moslemi and Samaneh Tavanbakhsh in the "International Journal of General Medicine." The combination of vitamin E and selenium has a particularly beneficial influence on sperm motility, the study notes. Nuts and seeds are food sources of vitamin E.
Fantastic Folic Acid
Folate or folic acid is perhaps best known for its ability to prevent certain birth defects, but this B vitamin is also crucial for sperm health. Folic acid plays a role in the formation of sperm cells, the Bastyr Center for Natural Health reports. Taking folic acid supplements might boost sperm health and increase sperm count, but the effects are even more impressive when the folic acid is combined with a zinc supplement. Normal sperm cell concentration increased by 74 percent in infertile men taking a combination of folic acid and zinc, the Bastyr Center notes. Food sources of folate include leafy greens, oranges and fortified breakfast cereal.
- The 100 Healthiest Foods to Eat During Pregnancy; Jonny Bowden
- Journal of Medicinal Food: Improvement in Human Semen Quality After Oral Supplementation of Vitamin C
- Asian Journal of Andrology: Association of 25-Hydroxy-Vitamin D Levels With Semen and Hormonal Parameters
- International Journal of General Medicine: Selenium-Vitamin E Supplementation in Infertile Men: Effects on Semen Parameters and Pregnancy Rate
- Bastyr Center for Natural Health: Folic Acid, Zinc Supplementation May Help Infertile Men
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin C