Folic Acid and Fertility
As we all know, a healthy lifestyle is a huge contributor to healthy sperm. Eating well, exercising, and not smoking are all components of a healthy lifestyle. Keeping alcohol consumption under wraps is also indicative of a man who keeps his health in focus. In a lifestyle of over-indulgence a man's overall health is compromised, and consequently so is his fertility. When a man does not get adequate amounts of essential vitamins and minerals, his health suffers and when that happens, his ability to procreate may also be adversely affected.
How Folic Acid Affects Male Fertility
It has long been known that folic acid is a critical substance when it comes to pregnancy. Women are encouraged to begin taking folic acid even before they become pregnant in order to protect the forming baby from neural tube defects, like spina bifida. Recently, studies have shown that the lack of folic acid in the male diet can have an effect upon fertility. Although there are not enough studies completed to date that support the concept, it makes sense that adequate folic acid is necessary to healthy sperm.
Folic acid is a B vitamin, B9 to be exact. As with all B vitamins, it is water soluble which means it has to be replenished and has a short "shelf-life" in the body. It is available as folic acid and also as folate and can be found in foods as well as in supplement form.
Folate's main function is cell production and maintenance. During pregnancy it is important to cell division. When it comes to male fertility, it is folic acid that helps to reduce breaks in the chromosomes which, in turn, encourages the multiplication of sperm cells.
These findings are encouraging, but don't go raiding your woman's medicine cabinet for all your fertility needs. In addition to folic acid, women need lots of iron before and during conception; but too much iron can actually have negative effects on man's ability to conceive because it competes with Zinc absorption. Zinc is important for the cell division and the production of healthy sperm. A low level of folic acid in men is associated with decreased sperm count and decreased sperm motility as well as contributing to sperm DNA damage. DNA damage can lead to possible health challenges for babies.
Antioxidants Assist Increase
Known to be part of the antioxidant grouping, vitamins C and E are essential to the maintenance of fertility in men. There is no shortage of studies to support the fact that optimal vitamin C levels help to protect the sperm's DNA from free radical damage. Vitamin C has been shown to affect the quantity of sperm in men who are healthy but infertile. In one important study 30 men, over a period of one week, were given either a placebo, 200mg per day of vitamin C or 1000mg per day of vitamin C. At the end of the study the men who received 200mg of vitamin C per day showed a 112% increase in their sperm count; the men who received 1000mg of vitamin C per day had a 140% increase in their sperm count; and the men who were taking the placebo had no increase in sperm count. Vitamin E also helps protect sperm's outer membrane from free radical-induced damage. One study showed that supplementation with vitamin E decreased peroxidation damage to sperm caused by free radicals and also increased sperm motility.
Keep 'Em Movin'
Zinc is an essential mineral when it comes to sperm health and optimal testosterone levels. It is implicated in almost every aspect of male reproduction, including sperm formation, sperm motility and testosterone metabolism.
Like zinc, selenium is also crucial for optimal fertility. It is considered important for sperm motility and, when combined with the antioxidant vitamins, A, C and E, men with fertility issues have been shown to have improved sperm motility. Arginine is also connected to healthy sperm motility. An amino acid, arginine is a precursor for the molecules putrescine, spermidine and spermine, all of which are necessary for maintaining sperm motility.
By ensuring his diet is healthy and well balanced, and by supplementing vitamins, minerals and nutrients when there is a deficiency, a man takes control of his body's health and his sperm health. Healthy sperm are 50% of the equation when it comes to pregnancy.