Vitamins and minerals are almost always combined in nature. Folic acid, a B-vitamin, and zinc can be found together in foods such as liver, nuts and legumes. Folic acid and zinc are often combined in your multivitamin-mineral supplement, as well, so there is no contraindication to taking them together. In fact, megadosing the two nutrients together may increase sperm counts in men and positively affect fertility.
Role of Folic Acid
Your body needs folic acid, also known as vitamin B-9 or folate, to make and repair DNA strands, promote red blood-cell production in your bone marrow, remove homocysteine from your bloodstream and aid in the metabolism of nutrients into usable forms of energy. The National Institutes of Health recommends 400 mcg of folic acid daily for men and women who aren't pregnant or lactating. Folic acid prevents neural-tube defects in developing fetuses and may also contribute to sperm-cell production.
Role of Zinc
Zinc is an essential mineral needed for immune function. It also plays an important role in wound healing, carbohydrate metabolism, the sensation of taste and smell, cell division and cell growth, including sperm cells, as cited in the “Doctor's Complete Guide to Vitamins and Minerals” by Mary Dan Eades and Philip Lief. Further, zinc is needed to synthesize testosterone. Recommendations for daily intake of zinc are 15 mg per day for men.
Effects of Combining Folic Acid and Zinc
Combining folic acid and zinc allows for normal cell division and growth throughout the body. Megadosing them together may give additional benefit to men. A Dutch study published in a 2002 Edition of “Fertility and Sterility” found that taking high levels of folic acid and zinc together increased sperm count and motility in some men. Specifically, the researchers found that men who were having difficulty impregnating their partners increased their sperm counts by up to 74 percent after taking 5 mg of folic acid and 66 mg of zinc sulfate each day for 26 weeks. Interestingly, neither nutrient improved sperm count very much when taken alone. The researchers speculated that taking the two nutrients together affected semen quality, because they both play important roles in gene function, and zinc stimulates testosterone synthesis, which can increase sperm volume.
Folic Acid and Zinc in Foods
Folic acid is found in some meats, especially animal liver, but is more abundant in leafy green vegetables, legumes and beans. Vegetables and fruits are not good sources of zinc, although red meat, liver, poultry and pork are rich in the mineral, as cited in the “American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide.” Zinc is also abundant in legumes, peanuts and some seeds and beans.
- National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements: Folate Fact Sheet
- “Doctor's Complete Guide to Vitamins and Minerals”; Mary Dan Eades and Philip Lief; 2002
- “Nutritional Sciences”; Michelle McGuire; 2007
- “Fertility and Sterility”; Effects of Folic Acid and Zinc Sulfate on Male Factor Subfertility: a Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial; W.Y. Wong et al; June 2002
- “American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide”; American Dietetic Association; 2006