Impaired male fertility is becoming a growing problem. Often, couples invest a great deal of time and expense in to finding a solution through doctors and specialists, often to no avail.
Up to 40% of all infertility problems in the western world are a direct result of poor sperm quality – and studies show that the quality of our sperm is still declining, largely due to factors in our lifestyle that are directly within our control. The large amounts of processed foods, packed full of artificial additives and preservatives in the modern day diet, has been cited as the main reason for the 50% drop in sperm count over the last 20 years.
Why food influences male fertility
Which nutrients boost male fertility
Four recipes packed with male fertility nutrients
How to boost male fertility through food supplements
Nutrition and Fertility
Fortunately, there are mounting studies that clearly show the positive impact good nutrition can have on male fertility; and these studies show a conclusive relationship between the quality of a man’s diet, and the quality of his sperm motility, sperm count, and ejaculate volume.
Following a diet abundant in natural, unprocessed foods using fertility diet recipes has been proven to have a dramatic impact on male fertility, and studies have shown that several key nutrients have a large role to play in the health of the male reproductive system. These nutrients are broken down into the following three categories:
Semen is made of protein, and as amino acids are the building block of protein, studies have shown that the quality of a man’s semen is directly affected by the quality of the protein in his diet. Whilst the overall quality of protein is important, three amino acids have been identified to have the most positive effect on male fertility.
These are Arginine, Carnitine, and Cysteine. They help improve sperm count and morphology, as well as protecting against free radical damage to the sperm. Red meat is an excellent source of Arginine and Carnitine, whilst Cysteine can also be found in pork, chicken, salmon and sunflower seeds.
Studies have shown that certain vitamins have been proven to boost male fertility. The following vitamins are critical to the health of your reproductive system:
Vitamin C – helps to balance hormones and strengthens the immune system, and studies have shown that lower levels of Vitamin C can lead to decreased sperm count and greater risk of damage to the sperm cells themselves. Good sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, dark green vegetables, kiwis, strawberries, and red and green peppers.
Folic Acid – Also known as Vitamin B9, Folic Acid has been proven to reduce chromosome defects in sperm. It’s essential for many critical processes in the body, including cell division and regeneration. Good sources of Folic Acid include dark leafy greens, broccoli, asparagus and avocado.
Vitamin E – Essential for the absorption of Omegas 3 and 6, which are used to make hormones. Vitamin E is found in almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds and extra virgin olive oil.
Vitamin D – Vital for a healthy immune system, mineral absorption and production of new cells. Vitamin D is produced mainly by our own bodies through exposure to sunlight; however it is also found in oily fish such as mackerel, sardines, and wild salmon.
Beta Carotene – Essential for healthy cell regeneration and a powerful antioxidant, Beta Carotene is abundant in brightly coloured vegetables such as carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, and beetroot.
Along with taking in the correct amounts of the amino acids and vitamins mentioned above, there are two trace elements which are vital for the health of your reproductive system. The first is Zinc, which is essential for boosting male sexual hormone levels and improving sperm quality.
Oysters and red meat are the best sources of Zinc, but it can also be found in pumpkin seeds, pork and chicken. Selenium is also very important, and has been proved to improve sperm motility. Selenium is also sourced through red meat, as well as brazil nuts, sunflower seeds and tuna.
In addition to the nutrients above, a diet high in antioxidants is highly advised, as they directly protect the sperm cells from free radical damage. Foods high in antioxidants include blueberries, blackberries, pomegranate, red grapes and dark chocolate.
Whilst all this information may seem like a lot to take in, it’s fairly easy to follow once you get the hang of it. It’s highly important to focus your diet around whole, unprocessed foods, whilst cutting out anything artificial. Processed foods have a proven detrimental effect on your all round health, let alone the reproductive system.
Organic foods are preferred where possible, as pesticides and hormones used in ‘standard’ production of meats, fruits and vegetables have been shown to disrupt the body’s own hormones – however, simply upping your intake of ‘real’ foods is a great place to start. An example daily meal plan, specifically designed to meet your daily targets of the required nutrients, is listed below:
As you can see from the meal plans above, you can achieve high levels of the required nutrients simply by consuming good quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and fish, nuts and seeds.
To make sure you consistently reach the daily minimum nutrient requirements, you should consider taking a food supplement. Consistence is key, because high male sperm quality is the product of long-term healthy lifestyle efforts.
Male fertility supplements are
- Without side effects
- able to increase sperm motility by up to 23%,
- able to increase ejaculate volume by up to 33%
- able to increase sperm count by up to 215%1
- Relatively inexpensive
- Effective after three months
In addition to a high quality diet, supplements are able to deliver all the key nutrients in the required quantities more (cost) effectively and efficiently than any regular diet.
The market has on offer a large variety of male fertility supplements. However, they vary significantly in terms of price and nutrient composition. Menfertility.org has carefully compared 10 male fertility supplements in terms of value for money and nutrients on offer.
- “Imhof, Martin et al., “Improvement of sperm quality after micronutritient supplementation”, e-SPEN, the European e-Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism, Epub published ahead of print.” ↩