Nutrition Articles

Nutrition and Fertility: An Overview for Men

10 Key Nutrients that Affect a Man's Fertility

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.

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