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For YouMale Fertility

Key Nutrients for Male Fertility

By September 21, 2021No Comments
SPERM COUNT

by Sarah Trimble

Getting the right nutrients from your diet and high quality nutritional supplements can make a huge difference to male reproductive health, promoting optimal hormone levels and healthy sperm production. If you’re not sure which nutrients you really need this is a guide to the key nutrients you need to focus on.

Remember the sperm maturation period is 3 months so to produce healthy sperm we need these nutrients consistently for 3 months prior to starting trying to conceive or in the 3 months prior to beginning assisted conception treatments.

Foods High in Zinc that Boosts Immunity - 31 Daily

Zinc

This mineral is probably the most important nutrient when it comes to male fertility and as a result men who are zinc deficient are more likely to experience infertility. Zinc is required to produce testosterone and for sperm production and men with low levels of zinc are more likely to have low sperm count and low testosterone levels.

On top of that our body uses zinc to make antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that we can either obtain from our diet, or produce in our bodies, that protect our cells from damage by unstable molecules called free radicals. Antioxidants are incredibly important in male fertility and sperm health because sperm cells, and the DNA that is contained within the sperm, is very vulnerable to free radical damage. Therefore men trying to optimise their sperm quality need to increase their antioxidant levels. Zinc is needed for the body to produce an antioxidant called SOD and higher levels of SOD improve sperm number and motility whereas lower levels was associated with poorer DNA quality in the sperm.

Zinc is present from red meat, eggs, shellfish, cashew nuts, pumpkin seeds, and dairy products. Red meat represents by far the best dietary source as it provides a form of zinc that is easily absorbed by the body, therefore men who avoid red meat or follow a vegetarian or vegan diet could be at higher risk of zinc deficiency. Zinc cannot be stored in the body, so regular daily intake in the form of quality supplementation may be necessary when trying to optimise male fertility.

Selenium & Cysteine

Since the 1970s our intake of selenium has been gradually dropping due to the depletion of selenium from the soil in which our vegetables are grown and animals graze. It is very difficult to get enough selenium even from a balanced diet and this is bad news for male fertility. Selenium plays a role in the process of sperm production, called spermatogenesis, and ensures proper motility of sperm, helping them swim to their destination.

Like zinc, selenium is used by the body to produce an important antioxidant to protect sperm from free radical damage. Together with the amino acid cysteine, selenium is used by the body to produce an antioxidant called glutathione. You may have never heard of it but glutathione is the single most important antioxidant for male fertility, protecting sperm from damage during sperm production. Glutathione has also been shown to keep sperm healthy during assisted conception treatments when sperm may be stored, frozen and thawed.

As I’ve mentioned it can be difficult to get enough selenium from diet alone and to ensure adequate daily intake to optimise reproductive health daily supplementation is recommended for men who are trying to conceive.

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Vitamin D

Our diet is not our main source of vitamin D, in fact our body produces its own vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. As a result people living in less sunny climates like Northern Europe are more likely to be vitamin D deficient. There is a clear relationship between vitamin D levels and male reproductive health. Vitamin D deficiency is believed to result in lower testosterone levels and poor sperm quality. In one clinical trial men who were tested for vitamin D deficiency and then had it treated saw their testosterone levels and sperm quality improve alongside their vitamin D levels. Testing vitamin D status to learn whether a deficiency is present is an important initial step in optimising nutritional health for conception. Once you know your vitamin D levels a medical professional or nutritional therapist can advise on an appropriate supplementation level tailored to your needs.

Vitamin C & Vitamin E

Vitamin C and vitamin E are both antioxidant nutrients that we can obtain directly from our diet. The combination of these two nutrients has been shown to keep the DNA within sperm healthy and the health of this DNA can have a significant impact on chances of conception and achieving a healthy pregnancy.

Smokers are at risk of vitamin C deficiency and therefore must increase their intake through both dietary sources such as oranges, kiwi fruit, peppers and tomatoes and consider taking a vitamin C. Vitamin E is a fat soluble nutrient found in avocadoes, nuts and seeds and olive oil so people on low fat diets could risk a deficiency.

L-arginine

L-arginine is an amino acid that is typically found in meat, turkey, peanuts, pumpkin seeds and dark chocolate. It is a multi-tasker when it comes to male fertility, undertaking a number of key roles. In the body l-arginine relaxes blood vessels ensuring proper blood flow to the male reproductive organs, delivering nutrients and oxygen necessary for sperm production. L-arginine also supports the energy production process within sperm cells and this leads to better sperm motility. Sperm are very active compared to other cells and, as a result, energy production within the sperm cell is very important. Better energy production within sperm cells will ensure good sperm motility, helping the sperm move more efficiently through the female reproductive tract.

 

L-Carnitine

Another amino acid and, as the name suggests, our main dietary source is meat! Like l-arginine, l-carnitine also supports the energy production within the sperm cell, promoting better sperm motility. It also promotes conception in another very important way, by increasing levels of an enzyme in the sperm head that enable sperm cells to penetrate an egg cell. So l-carnitine can help sperm move through the female reproductive tract and help those cells fertilise the egg cell when they get there.

CoQ10

CoQ10 is a nutrient like substance that we can actually produce in our own bodies. It has two main roles in male fertility: it supports energy production in sperm cells, thus ensuring good motility, and it is an antioxidant that improves sperm quality.

You may have read, or been advised that very high doses of Co Q 10 are needed to boost sperm health, however, it is important to be aware that very high doses of antioxidants can actually have a negative impact on sperm health and interfere with sperm production and fertilisation. Dosages of between 30-60mg daily have been shown to be sufficient in promoting sperm quality and motility without any potential negative impact.

We call this the Goldilocks effect because you don’t want too little antioxidants or too many as both could be detrimental to male reproductive function.

Probiotic Bacteria

I know probiotic bacteria are not technically nutrients, but they have so many positive effects for our health that they act just like powerful nutrients. We now know that semen contains trillions of GOOD bacteria that have a positive role in maintaining the health of a man’s sperm population and imbalances in this population of good bacteria could have a negative impact on reproductive health.

Clinical trials using the probiotic strains Lactibacillus Rhamnosus BIFOLAC PB01 and Bifidobacterium Longum have shown the power of probiotics to improve sperm motility and DNA quality within the sperm. In fact one study found sperm motility to increase by 6 times following probiotic supplementation.

So when using nutrition to optimise male fertility, a combined approach of choosing the right foods, whilst supplementating with a high quality nutrient and probiotic formula is a great place to start.

 

References

Fallah A, Mohammad-Hasani A, Colagar AH. Zinc is an Essential Element for Male Fertility: A Review of Zn Roles in Men’s Health, Germination, Sperm Quality, and Fertilization. J Reprod Infertil. 2018 Apr-Jun;19(2):69-81.

Hawkes & Turek (2001) Effects of dietary selenium on sperm motility in healthy men J Andrology 22 (5)

Elmussareh M et al (2015) Antioxidant therapy for Male Subfertility: Myth or Evidence Based? Trends in Urology and Men’s Health

Safarinejad MR et al (2009) Efficacy of Selenium and/or N-Acetyl-Cysteine for Improving Semen Parameters in Infertile Men: A Double-Blind, Placebo Controlled, Randomized Study The Journal of Urology 181 (2) 741-51

Ahmadi S, Bashiri R, Ghadiri-Anari A, Nadjarzadeh A. Antioxidant supplements and semen parameters: An evidence based review. Int J Reprod Biomed. 2016 Dec;14(12):729-736

Alzoubi A, Mahdi H, Al Bashir S, et al. NORMALIZATION OF SERUM VITAMIN D IMPROVES SEMEN MOTILITY PARAMETERS IN PATIENTS WITH IDIOPATHIC MALE INFERTILITY. Acta Endocrinol (Buchar). 2017;13(2):180-187.

Scibona M, Meschini P, Capparelli S, Pecori C, Rossi P, Menchini Fabris GF. L-arginina e infertilità maschile [L-arginine and male infertility]. Minerva Urol Nefrol. 1994 Dec;46(4):251-3.

Garolla A, Maiorino M, Roverato A, Roveri A, Ursini F, Foresta C. Oral carnitine supplementation increases sperm motility in asthenozoospermic men with normal sperm phospholipid hydroperoxide glutathione peroxidase levels. Fertil Steril. 2005 Feb;83(2):355-61.

Sun LL, Wan XX, Zhang Y, Zhang YH, Zhao WJ, Wang D, Wang JG, Xie JL, Ma HG. [L-carnitine improves sperm acrosin activity in male infertility patients]. Zhonghua Nan Ke Xue. 2018 Dec;24(12):1064-1068.

Valcarce DG, Genovés S, Riesco MF, Martorell P, Herráez MP, Ramón D, Robles V. Probiotic administration improves sperm quality in asthenozoospermic human donors. Benef Microbes. 2017 Apr 26;8(2):193-206.

Dardmeh F, Alipour H, Gazerani P, van der Horst G, Brandsborg E, Nielsen HI (2017) Lactobacillus rhamnosus PB01 (DSM 14870) supplementation affects markers of sperm kinematic parameters in a diet-induced obesity mice model. PLoS ONE 12(10)

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Amy Martin

Marketing Director

Amy is a high achieving individual with a number of marketing awards under her belt, including Young Digital Business Person of the Year 2019. She is a big believer in digital marketing and an expert in executing personalised targeted campaigns. Amy strives to learn from data and campaigns that show return on investment.

Robert Gordon

Managing Director, Gordons Chemists

 

Robert Gordon, director at Gordons Chemist's. Gordons Chemists is a chain of more than 60 pharmacies, located in NI and Scotland. Gordons Chemists is Northern Ireland's largest independent pharmacy chain.

Dr. Debbie Collins

MBBchBAO MRCGP

 

Dr. Debbie Collins MBBchBAO MRCGP, a practicing GP and partner in Belfast. She has a passion for patient education and advocacy. Her special interests are Women's Health and Fertility

Sarah Trimble

Nutritional Therapist

 

Sarah Trimble - a nutritional therapist with a passion for good food instead of fad diets. Sarah has a particular Interest in using the power of nutrition to support hormonal imbalances and reproductive health.

Barbara Scott

Director, Seren Natural Fertility
Chair, Association of Reproductive Reflexologists

 

Barbara Scott is Chair of The Association of Reproductive Reflexologists, founder of Seren Natural Fertility and author of Reflexology for Fertility. In 2017, she was awarded ‘Complementary Therapist of the Year’ by the Federation of Holistic Therapists and has been nominated for several awards within the field of complementary therapy. In 2019 she was awarded the Innovation in Reflexology Award by the Association of Reflexologists.

Barbara speaks and lectures globally on her integrative approach to supporting couples having difficulties conceiving. She has spoken at many of the Fertility Shows and Fertility Fest. Alongside her own busy clinics, she also trains practitioners in providing this integrative, approach to fertility and reproductive healthcare and well-being. The ARR (Association of Reproductive Reflexologists) has trained practitioners globally, from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Europe, and most areas of the UK.

Her expertise and passion is in advocating a patient-centred and integrative approach to supporting both men and women on their journey to parenthood.

Cindy Charles

Fertility coach and Founder of Fertilelife

 

Cindy Charles- Fertility coach and Founder of Fertilelife. Cindy is a committed advocate of social and personal development. Her own life experiences inspired her fertility support services. Cindy has worked with the Fertility Network UK, and has had the privilege to work as a resident Fertility Coach for the London Women's Clinic on Harley Street. Cindy believes in the importance of nurturing our own fertility.

Dr. Lyuda Shkrobot

MD, MSc Gynecologist, Fertility specialist at unq.life fertility clinic

 

Dr Lyuda has a special interest in reproductive immunology. Dr Shkrobot assisted in establishing the first European Donor Egg programme at Sims, coordinating and liaising with Intersono Clinic in Ukraine Advisors. She is passionate about patient-centred, results-driven care.

Jill Martin

Business Development Director

 

Jill Martin is a trained nurse and highly experienced pharmaceutical professional. Most of her business acumen and skills were developed by the world class training she received at Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK). Hard work and focus have resulted in a varied and successful career working in several different disease areas. As part of the Diabetes team at GSK, an opportunity arose to develop and support education programmes that were rolled out to the NHS across the UK, which resulted in improvement of Strategy and Patient Care. Jill feels that education is the key to understanding and has made it a personal goal to self-improve and support learning for others especially within the healthcare arena. The last 10 years have been devoted to trying to impart the importance of Fertility Health early in the life cycle of us all, rather than when infertility issues arise. She is delighted to have joined Nua Fertility on their mission to support people and communities to understand the importance of gut health on our fertility well-being.
 

Share a little about yourself—the things we wouldn’t learn from simply reading your professional bio.

The most important thing to me in life are family and friends, it breaks my heart when people are broken and I know that I am always trying to find solutions to problems. I love being outside rather than sitting at a desk and would rather lift the phone and have a chat with someone rather than email or message. I find people interesting and will often be that annoying person who starts a conversation on a train or plane.
 

What was your journey to parenthood like?

I feel very blessed to have had my family naturally, although not without some challenges. Following a miscarriage and thyroid issues conception wasn’t as easy as I would have hoped. My personal experience made me appreciate how important it is to value ways to improve your fertility health. This set me on my own journey to find out more, by surrounding myself with a network of experts in this area who I am continually learning from. When possible I take every opportunity to share best practice or send information to others that I know who are also seeking to understand more.
 

What is your ideal way to relax and unwind?

Juggling home life and working full time with a lot of travel, for most of my adult life made me find a way to relax that may seem strange. I love getting my trainers on and going for a long walk or run, even in the rain! Sometimes I will listen to a podcast and other times just be mindful of my surroundings. I find this a great way to clear my head, think about priorities and take time out for myself.
 

If there was just one thing you could impart on women on their journey to parenthood, what would it be.

From an early age I loved to make jigsaws, little did I know that this skill would help me later in life to understand the complexity of fertility and the miracle of life. Everyone is unique, every situation is different, like a jigsaw there are lots of pieces that need to be put together to become complete. Explore all options, chat to experts don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Aoibheann Murphy

Chief Financial Officer

 

Having trained with PWC, Aoibheann qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1997. She subsequently spent eight years working in industry, gaining invaluable experience in many areas In 2005 Aoibheann became MD of Pangur Consulting, providing professional expertise to a broad client base. She is looking forward to the new challenge of Nua Fertility.
 

Share a little about yourself—the things we wouldn’t learn from simply reading your professional bio.

 

What was your journey to parenthood like?

Right craic!
 

Do you prefer podcasts or books? And of the one that you prefer, what is a show or title that you recommend?

I love sport…any sport…and the outdoors. Living in the Barrow valley I get to enjoy swimming and kayaking in the Barrow and exploring the Blackstairs mountains. Since I hung up my soccer boots (the body just couldn’t take it anymore!), I’ve been cycling with my lovely friends in Mount Leinster Wheelers and was chuffed to have completed the Ironman 70.3 triathlon event in Dublin in 2019!
I’m an avid reader…books beat podcasts hands down!...although recently I’ve dabbled with audio books through the library app Borrow Box. “A Little Life” left its mark on me. A harrowing story, definitely not for the faint hearted.
 

If there was just one thing you could impart on women on their journey to parenthood, what would it be?

Don’t be consumed by the roles in your life – parent, partner, employee etc. Parenthood, be it getting there or going through it, will have its tough times. Cherishing yourself as an individual and making time for yourself can help you through those times….it’s good to be a bit selfish!!

Mark Mullins

Director of Sales

 

What was your journey to parenthood like?

To be honest it was very difficult. At the beginning we thought that when we decided that we wanted to start a family Deborah would fall pregnant shortly afterwards like many of her friends. As time went by, we started to suspect something was wrong. After initial tests we found out that I had a low sperm count which meant that we would have to go down the assisted pregnancy route. This took me several months to get my head around as I blamed myself for this. All I wanted was my wife to be able to go through the pregnancy journey. We couldn’t wait to become parents. There were many long and painful nights where I thought this would never happen for us. After several failed attempts we decided to look at further ways of improving our chances. This led us to look at fertility supplements, our diet, exercise. I will never forget when that morning during our Two Week Wait when Deborah woke me up at 5 a.m. to show me those two lines, we had both been yearning for! We are blessed to now have our beautiful daughter.
 

On challenging days, what kept you going? Where did you find inspiration?

My wife was my inspiration. She kept me going through those challenging months and years. She was there to help me deal with everything. The guilt I felt when I saw her having to go through everything.
 

What is your ideal was to relax and unwind?

My latest passion is cooking on my BBQ. I find it so peaceful and I just switch off. It just gives me a bit of alone time which everyone needs.
 

If there was just one thing you could impart on men as they begin trying to become parents, what would it be?

I would highly recommend communicating with friends and family. A problem shared is a problem halved. Failing that there are some really good private Facebook groups for men suffering from infertility. I found this great support through the good and especially the bad times.