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.
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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- Nutrition and Male Fertility – How Your Diet Can Increase Sperm Count - February 15, 2011