Male Fertility – The 4 Vitamins & Minerals that can help Optimise Sperm Quality
Published October 2022
Key Point Summary:
- A test of sperm quality is an important measure of male fertility
- Nutrition and environmental factors can impact a sperm count test
- Vitamins and Minerals can support healthy sperm quality
What is Semen Analysis and why is it important?
The most important measure of male fertility is sperm quality. This involves a semen analysis / test of sperm concentration (how much sperm is in the semen, Spermcount Test), a test of sperm morphology (the physical shape of the sperm) and a test of sperm motility (the movement and ability to swim), which are all required to assess the overall quality of sperm.
Research has suggested that the quality of male sperm has deteriorated drastically in the last 40 years globally and may be affected by factors such as obesity, a high-fat diet as well as other environmental factors.
How can you improve quality for a Sperm Count Test?
Whilst some male infertility disorders can be genetic or may be resultant of a physiological problem, the diet and the nutrients you consume can have an impact the quality of your sperm, owing to how our bodies metabolise and use the vitamins and minerals to function properly.
Semen analysis research has shown that diets high in healthy fats, antioxidants and carotenoids, similar to those consumed within the Mediterranean Diet; are associated with a higher sperm concentration and motility.
Equally, if you eat a high level of processed foods, simple carbs or saturated fats, researchers have linked this to problems such as poor sperm quality and subfertility when semen analysis is undertaken. As the saying advocates, you are what you eat so it may be time to review the type of diet you currently have to benefit not only your own health, but that of your sperm.
Further, test of sperm have shown the impact of oxidative stress and free radicals from poor diet impacts directly on the quality of sperm - reporting that damage to sperm from oxidative stress is responsible for up to 80% of male infertility cases.
Vitamins and Minerals can serve to protect from oxidative stress and improve the health of your sperm.
Whilst Zinc is a trace mineral, it is necessary within our diet to enable over 100 enzymes to carry out vital chemical reactions. Zinc has a huge role in creating DNA, the growth of cells, building proteins, healing injuries, and fighting infection. It contributes greatly to a healthy immune system.
Zinc is one of the most beneficial minerals for male fertility as it promotes healthy production of sperm, sperm count, morphology and motility. Zinc concentration in semen has been directly related to sperm quality in fertility studies. Men with low levels of zinc in their semen will tend to have poor sperm quality.
It’s important to ensure you meet the daily recommended dietary requirement for zinc as the human body cannot store it. If you are unable to consume the daily requirement, you may need to consider taking a supplement.
Foods that contain Zinc include: Fortified breakfast cereals, whole grains, beans, nuts, lentils, oysters, crab, pork, turkey, beef, spinach, asparagus, broccoli and dairy products.
Vitamin C helps to fight against the effects of oxidative damage as it is a powerful antioxidant.
You should aim to eat Vitamin C rich foods daily to help to prevent a deficiency and improve sperm count, sperm motility, and sperm morphology.
Foods that contain high amount of Vitamin C include: citrus fruits and juices, sweet peppers, kiwi, brussel sprouts, cantaloupe melon, peaches, strawberries and broccoli. In addition, you can also obtain vitamin C from supplements.
Selenium is a trace mineral that functions as an antioxidant, helping to combat the cellular damage from oxidative stress and free radicals in your body. Selenium has been shown to contribute to improved sperm morphology and motility.
Foods that contain selenium include: Chicken, turkey, cottage cheese, ham, lean beef, rice, tuna, sardines, halibut and Brazil nuts.
Whilst it is important to include selenium in your diet, try not to exceed the daily recommended allowance as this can adversely impact your sperm health.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps protect the sperm's cell membrane from free radical damage. Studies have shown that vitamin E improves sperm motility (movement). Vitamin C functions to regenerate vitamin E; thus, these vitamins may work together to improve sperm function.
Foods which are rich in Vitamin E include: fortified cereals, sunflower seeds, sunflower oil, broccoli, kale, spinach, avocado, almonds and hazelnuts. You can also take a Vitamin E supplement. Studies have shown that Vitamin C functions to regenerate Vitamin E, so these vitamins work together to improve sperm quality.
Want to learn more about Fertility Supplements?
Read my personal recommendations for Supplements for Male Fertility in my blog: Optimise Your Fertility: Fertility Vitamins and Supplements Beneficial for Women and Men