Nutrition Articles

Nutrition and Fertility: An Overview for Men

10 Key Nutrients that Affect a Man's Fertility

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When trying to conceive, women aren't the only ones who should be paying attention to what they're eating. What men eat can affect their fertility, too.

Good nutrition can generate valuable dividends, and there is no better time than the present to start. The better a man's nutritional status, the healthier his sperm are and the more easily his partner will conceive. A man's diet should be very similar to a woman's pre-pregnancy eating plan: daily servings of bread, grains and pasta (6-11 servings); vegetables (3-5 servings); fruits (2-4 servings); protein (2-3 servings); and calcium-rich foods (2-3 servings). To find out how many calories you need based on your age, body size and activity level, use SparkPeople's free Nutrition Tracker. Pay particular attention to key vitamins and nutrients, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium and vitamin D, which all have specific roles in the production of sperm.

In addition, here are some other nutrients and foods that can affect male reproductive health:

All fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, which help keep sperm healthy. At a 2006 meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, researchers reported that the more fruits and vegetables a man ate, the more mobile his sperm were. Where to get it: Fruits and vegetables naturally contain antioxidants. Eating a wide range of produce, in various colors, ensures that you're consuming a variety of antioxidants.  Aim for 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

Coffee, tea and soda might give you an energy boost in the morning, but too much caffeine can harm sperm. While Brazilian researchers found that moderate caffeine consumption can give sperm a little extra swimming power, that boost is fleeting, and in the long run, caffeine actually makes sperm more lethargic. Where to cut back: Limiting or reducing caffeine intake from coffee, tea, soda and energy drinks can help boost sperm motility.

Folate (Folic acid)
We've known for a long time that this water-soluble vitamin helps prevent birth defects. That's why mothers-to-be need 400 microgams (mcg) every day. But as recent studies have shown, fathers-to-be need to get enough of it, too.  According to researchers at the University of California at Berkeley, men who don't consume enough folic acid are more likely to produce sperm containing either too few or too many chromosomes, which can lead to birth defects and/or miscarriage. Where to get it: Leafy green vegetables, fruit, beans, chickpeas, lentils, and fortified breads and grains are all good sources of folic acid.
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About The Author

Stepfanie Romine Stepfanie Romine
A former newspaper reporter, Stepfanie now writes about nutrition, health, fitness and cooking. She is a certified Ashtanga yoga teacher who enjoys running, international travel and all kinds of vegetables. See all of Stepfanie's articles.

Member Comments

  • This might be a coincidence, but as soon as my kids' dad started drinking pineapple juice (of which he never drank prior), we got pregnant right away...both times! :) - 4/12/2016 9:26:41 AM
  • I have to admit, the reason I hit the link is because of that eye candy at the top. Sorry for objectifying you bro'. Anyway please, more male models. - 5/8/2013 12:13:41 AM
  • Respectfully suggest this article be reedited for accuracy and clarity. The soy section needs correcting, and the zinc section is somewhat redundant. - 10/6/2011 6:27:15 AM
  • Yes, the soy comment is misleading as it is written and does not make any sense. Eating soy can cause problems for men.
    Interesting to see an article linked to male nutrition and fertility - a nice change. - 7/19/2011 12:14:28 AM
  • I would interpret that sentence as meaning one does not have to eat even one serving of soy for the harmful effects.
    Really makes one wonder if we should be drinking soy milk and using other soy products. Three of our grandchildren drink nothing but soy milk and those of us who are lactose intolerant depend on these other milks. Right now I have both almond and soy milk in fridge. - 5/5/2011 5:44:50 PM
  • PSALM22
    Agree with Mary Jean - the sentence as written does not make sense.

    Also, isn't it time to take another look at the article that pushes how good soy is? - 5/2/2010 4:23:46 PM
  • Bad mistake in the article - "eating less than one serving of soy foods" - this quote should actually say "eating MORE than one serving of soy..." - 12/13/2009 3:46:35 PM
    Hhmm, i'm gonna let my hubby have a look at this! Cant have too many healthy sperm now can we? - 6/6/2008 2:16:45 PM

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