Infertility has been with man for as long as history has shown us and depending on the cultural settings, individuals and/or couples experiencing this challenge can either get great emotional support from family and friends or face profound stigmatization. In some African cultures for example, the woman is usually, and oftentimes wrongly seen as the one with infertility issues but the reality is that men also are affected.
A man is diagnosed with infertility after 12 months of continuous sexual reactions with a woman without conception. Infertility in men usually manifests as follows:
Sperm Morphological Defects
Inadequate Sperm Motility
Low Sperm Count
Low volume of ejaculate, etc.
These signs usually reduce the ability of men to impregnate a woman. There are a few vitamins, minerals and micro-nutrients that have been identified to have potentially beneficial effects on fertility in men and they are shown below.
Selenium is a trace mineral that has a significant antioxidant property and fights against oxidative free radicals that have a damaging effect on body cells, including spermatozoa. Selenium improves motility, morphology, and sperm count and is usually combined in supplements with other vitamins and minerals to improve male fertility.
Vitamin C is a proven antioxidant, and potentially can combat free radicals that cause defects to spermatozoa. A study showed that vitamin C supplementation in infertile men might improve sperm count, sperm motility, and sperm morphology and might have a place as an additional supplement to improve the semen quality towards conception.
Foods that contain high amounts of vitamin C include citrus fruits, orange juice, grapefruit juice, sweet peppers, papayas, peaches, strawberries and broccoli. In addition, you can get vitamin C from many supplements.
Just like Vitamin C, Vitamin E also has antioxidant properties, protecting the body from free radicals, including sperm cells. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps protect the sperm’s cell membrane from damage. Studies have shown that vitamin E improves sperm motility. Men with low fertilization rates who took vitamin E supplements for three months showed a significant improvement in fertilization rate. Vitamin E supplementation in infertility men resulted in increased pregnancy rates.
Based on a 2018 study findings, Zinc microelement is very essential for male fertility. It could be considered as a nutrient marker with many potentials in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of male infertility. Zinc is the second most abundant trace element in humans, which can’t be stored in the body, thus regular dietary intake is required. Zinc is present in a lot of food consumed as part of our diet like red meat, shellfish, legumes, dairy, eggs etc.
L-Carnitine & Acetyl-l-carnitine
L-Carnitine and acetyl-L-carnitine are highly concentrated in the epididymis and play a crucial role in sperm metabolism and maturation. They are related to sperm motility and have antioxidant properties. A number of studies3 show that L-carnitine or Acetyl-L-carnitine, at total daily amounts of at least 3 g per day can significantly improve both sperm concentration and total sperm counts among men with morphological and motility issues. Carnitine is found in many animal products like red meat, dairy, eggs, etc., and is usually included in male fertility supplements.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is found usually occurring in cells of body organs like the heart, kidney, liver, and pancreas. CoQ10 functions as an antioxidant that blocks actions that can damage body cells, including sperm cells.
Studies have found that supplements of CoQ10 can help improve sperm motility and sperm count in infertile men.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that we associate with exposure to sunshine. Vitamin D has also been shown experimentally to improve male fertility through hormone modulation, that is, testosterone. It improves semen quality and positively associated to sperm motility
Dietary consumption or supplementation of these vitamins and micronutrients has the potential to increase male fertility and increase the chances of impregnating a woman. Of course, because human beings are genetically different and causes of infertility differ from one person to another, we also experience differences in how we respond to therapy, hence there are no guarantees.
Disclaimer: The information given in this article does not replace visiting and getting a proper diagnosis from your doctor. It is not intended for outright diagnosis or treatment of infertility in men.