Nutrition and Male Fertility – How Your Diet Can Increase Sperm Count

Fertility can be greatly impacted by diet in both men and women. For men, the primary side effect of poor eating habits is low or decreased sperm count. A man is considered to have a low sperm count if he has less than 20 million sperm per milliliter of semen at the time of semen analysis. Sperm count for Males in the US has been on a steady decline for the past ten years but the average sperm count is still pretty high at about 60 million. For men with low sperm counts and no related medical conditions, it is generally recommended that certain dietary changes be made prior to retesting. 

Alcohol Consumption

It is highly recommended that alcohol consumption be reduced or eliminated completely. Alcohol affects the liver and can both decrease sperm count and cause the development of abnormal sperm. The same is true for smoking. Males who smoke have 13-17% fewer sperm than those who don’t. The intake of caffeine deprives the body of key nutrients and should be reduced or eliminated as well. 

Take Your Vitamins

Vitamins A, C, and E are essential vitamins for sperm production. Foods that contain high amounts of vitamin C include citrus fruits, peppers, cauliflower, tomatoes, potato skins, cabbage, broccoli, peas and spinach. Vitamin E is abundant in raw seeds and nuts, sweet potato, kiwi, and mango. High amounts of vitamin E can be found in some fish like tuna and salmon. Vitamin A is found in liver, carrots, spinach, cheese and eggs. 

When selecting foods that improve sperm production it is important to look for items rich in iron, zinc, selenium, and folic acid. Many of the foods listed above are high in these nutrients. Studies have shown that men who take a combination of zinc and folic acid supplements can increase their sperm counts by up to 74%. The FDA requires that these nutrients be included in the nutritional information on food labels. It is recommended that a man consume 5 milligrams of folic acid and 11 milligrams of zinc per day for optimum reproductive health. 

Eat Balanced Meals

For healthy sperm production it is essential to eat a balanced diet of high protein, low fat foods including lean meats, fish, poultry, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. Carrying excess body weight can also impact sperm production as the body produces more estrogen and less testosterone in men who are overweight. Reducing refined sugars and non-essential or filler foods will naturally increase the appetite so it will be important to have healthy snacks on hand to fill the void. Taking the time to plan and prepare meals will reduce the urge to turn to convenience foods from the vending machine or the drive thru.

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Ernesto Martinez

Ernesto enjoys everything health and science related.  He is also the editor for My Lifestyle diet where he and his staff provide healthful resources including reviews on popular diets like the Jillian Michaels diet plan.

Ernesto Martinez

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  1. Maude says

    A primary reason for the reduced sperm count in men and increasing infertility in women (along with other related issues) is because they’re eating soy (whether on purpose, or because it’s found in so many processed foods), loaded with phytoestrogens. We’ve got people trying to get pregnant, while simultaneously loading up on estrogenic foods they’ve been mislead to believe are healthy, when they’re anything but. Clover honey and flax seed also contain phytoestrogens. Then there’s the BPA in the lining of tin cans and polycarbonate plastics (that was researched as birth control in the late 1930s, so they knew it had estrogenic effects prior to its being used for these purposes. The idea that not enough research has been done to know whether or not it’s estrogenic is bs). And another little known source are the xentoestrogens found in petroleum-based mineral oil (the basis of lotions, sunscreen, makeup, etc.) and Vaseline (aka petroleum jelly). Do a search for xenoestrogens and mineral oil and see how much research comes up. One would think doctors would warn their patients, but then they wouldn’t be lined up for expensive fertility treatments, would they?

  2. Boomer12k says

    A Chinese herb, Ho Shou Wu, is said to increase sperm count. A friend of mine had chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s Disease. He was on it for a year. He was also sterile from it. After he was THROUGH with it, he started drinking Red Clover Tea, or Ho Shou Wu, also called FOTI, (fo-tee), and he drank it for years and years. But eventually, his sperm came back strong enough….to have another child, which he and his wife had wanted to do. So they have three. She is a lovely girl about 13-15 years old now.

    Be well and happy!

  3. Lori says

    Grewat infor from Maude. Add to the list of culprits environmental chemicals such as pesticides, flame retardants, etc. Low sperm count has also been associated with vitamin D3 deficiency. We have to remember that fat soluble nutrients support hormone activity. Plus, eating low fat dairy won’t help sperm count, but small amounts of raw, grass fed full fat products just might…

  4. Maude says

    So glad you added those. Another bit of info that may be surprising is the fact that cholesterol is essential to a healthy body and mind, including that it’s the precursor to stress, sex, and other hormones, and it’s presence in your skin is required to absorb vitamin D from sunlight. Plus a whole lot more. And one of the many nasty side effects of cholesterol-blocking statin drugs is ED, something that has a decided effect on ones ability to reproduce. Please see my post following the article below for extremely important info on statin drugs. In a nut shell, if you or someone you know is on one, STOP NOW!

  5. Anne Davis says

    Also the fish in some lakes are losing their masculinity. A lot of drugs that get excreted by the kidneys end up in the water and they are not filtered out by out municipal water systems. If anyone knows of a kind of in-home water filtration system that filters out these drugs as well as the chlorine, fluoride and heavy metals please share. The only method I know of is to distill the water, but that has some disadvantages as well.


  6. Lori says

    Maude – Great point!! Anne – great point as well. I have 2 whole house filters from Aquasana that get out just about everything (not minerals) but I doubt it’s working on the drugs. I’m not sure (though I REALLY hope I’m wrong) that there is a system to take care of removing drugs because our government hasn’t acknowleged (business as usual) that there’s even a problem with that.

  7. Maude says

    Interesting question, and something I was also wondering about. I thought the most efficient filtration was reverse osmosis, but when I searched for an answer to this question (contained in the link), this is the first of many results I got. Short answer, it doesn’t work for pharmaceuticals.

    So I called Aquasana, and was most pleased to discover that your whole house system, as well as their undersink and countertop units do remove pharmaceuticals, along with pesticides, and other chemicals, yet leaves the calcium, magnesium, and other healthy minerals. I need to start selling these things.

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