Nutritional Info

Diet and Nutrition play a key role in male fertility.
A poor diet will result in reduced sperm count, motility & quality. Clinical studies have shown that simple dietary changes can improve semen quality after 3 months. It's best to source these nutrients from natural organic foods and this is discussed below.

The inclusion of fertility supplements has also been shown to improve semen quality and is important for the female reproductive system and pregnancy. Couples undergoing Ovulation Induction, IUI (Intrauterine insemination), IVF (In vitro fertilization) or ICSI (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection) infertility treatment should consider supplementing their diet.

Some poorer quality supplements contain nutrients in a form that our bodies find hard to absorb. Avoid supplements containing oxides, carbonates or sulphates. Supplements with citrate and ascorbate combinations have a much higher bioavailability,
e.g. if you had the same amount of magnesium oxide as magnesium citrate in two supplements, then you would absorb nearly 15 times more magnesium from the supplement with the magnesium citrate. So, even if a supplement says it has 100% of your magnesium RDA, it might not have it in a form that your body can easily absorb.

Fertility Check recommends NHP Fertility Support (Men) and NHP Fertility Support (Women), as these are high quality fertility supplements, that have been formulated by Dr Marilyn Glenville (nutritionist and best-selling author).

The following paragraphs explain:

  1. Which nutrients are most important to Sperm Health
  2. Why they are important to Sperm Health
  3. Where to find these nutrients in natural foods
  4. What their RDI is (Recommended Daily Intake)

Important nutrients described are:

  • Antioxidants (Vitamin C & E)
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin B9
  • Vitamin B6
  • Zinc
  • Selenium
  • Amino Acids (Arginine & L-Carnitine)
  • Coenzyme Q10
  • Fatty Acids (Omega-3 & Omega-6)

Antioxidants

Sperm are damaged when exposed to oxidative stress. The damage caused by oxidative stress is common in the testes of men with poor sperm quality. This includes decreased sperm motility, increased sperm DNA damage/fragmentation, sperm cellular membrane damage and a reduced chance the sperm will fuse with egg.

A diet rich in Antioxidants can reduce oxidative damage caused to sperm in the testes. Antioxidants can protect sperm cells by scavenging harmful molecules i.e. ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) and free radicals. The most important and commonly available antioxidants are Vitamin C and Vitamin E. Sperm DNA Fragmentation levels have been shown to improve by taking 1g of vitamin C and 1g of vitamin E daily for 2 months or by taking a supplement rich in antioxidants. Superoxide dismutase and glutathione are also popular antioxidants included in supplements to improve sperm quality.

Vitamin C sources: citrus fruits (e.g. oranges), broccoli, green leafy vegetables, green peppers, black currants, strawberries, raw cabbage and tomatoes.

Vitamin E sources: wheat germ, nuts, seeds, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, kiwis, vegetable oil, and fish-liver oil.

Natural sources of Antioxidants include:

  1. Dried fruits (the removal of water makes them more concentrated) e.g. pears, apples, plums, peaches, figs, raisins and dates.
  2. Deeply pigmented fruits e.g. cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackcurrants, blueberries, plums, figs, oranges, mango, cherries, guava, grape juice and pomegranate juice.
  3. Vegetable sources e.g. cabbage, beetroot, artichokes, broccoli, asparagus, avocados and spinach.
  4. Nut sources e.g. walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachio, almonds, cashew nuts and peanut butter.
Other important nutrients to consider are:

Vitamin B12 improves sperm production & motility.
Sources: Generally meat sources e.g. liver, fish and shellfish, poultry, eggs, milk, milk products and fortified cereal products (e.g. breakfast cereals)

Vitamin B9 (folic acid) is important for spermatogenisis (sperm generation & maturation).
Sources: Vegetables (e.g. broccoli, spinach, asparagus, avocados, brussel sprouts), brewers yeast, wheat germ, legumes (e.g. beans, peas, lentils), sunflower seeds, citrus fruits, egg yolks, liver and kidney.
Pasta, cereal and bread can also be fortified.

Vitamin B6 together with Zinc are important to the male hormone production pathway.
Sources: Tuna, salmon, chickpeas, banana, chicken, liver and fortified breakfast cereals.

Zinc also plays a role in improving sperm DNA structure, production and motility.
Sources: Oysters, liver, beef, crab, pork, lamb, seeds (e.g. seasame, pumpkin), nuts, whole grains, wheatgerm and legumes.

Selenium improves sperm motility.
Sources: Brazil nuts, mushrooms, tuna, beef, cod, liver chicken, eggs, garlic, brewers yeast and wheatgerm

Amino Acids such as Arginine and L-carnitine are required for normal sperm production and function.

Arginine can be made in our bodies from other food components. But sometimes it will also need to be taken in directly.
Sources: Nuts (e.g. peanuts, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, cashew, walnuts, almonds, pistachio), dairy products, beef, pork, poultry, seafood, wheatgerm, flour, seeds (e.g. sunflower, seasame, pumpkin), chickpeas and soybeans.

L-carnitine is found in greater amounts in sperm tissues than other cells. Preliminary clinical studies suggest that L-carnitine supplementation may stimulate sperm motility. L-carnitine supplementation has also had beneficial effects in the treatment of varicocele.
Sources: Beef, pork, cod, chicken, dairy products, nuts, seeds and vegetables (e.g. avocado, asparagus, broccoli).

Coenzyme Q10 increases sperm count and motility
Coenzyme Q10, also called ubiquinone, is important for energy production, and cell protection because of it’s antioxidant properties.
Sources: Organ meat (e.g. heart, liver, kidney), oily fish, vegetable oils, nuts and vegetables (e.g. parsely, broccoli)

Omega-3 fatty acids improve sperm membrane fluidity. Linolenic acid is the principle Omega-3 fatty acid.
DHA (docosahexaenoic) is found in particularly high concentrations in sperm membranes. Phospholipid bound DHA plays a major role in the motile lifespan of sperm, membrane damage and DNA oxidation.
Sources: Salmon, mackerel, sardines, flax seeds, walnuts and oils (e.g. fish, krill, flaxseed, canola).

Omega-6 fatty acids are also important for sperm membrane fluidity. Linoleic acid is the main Omega-6 fatty acid.
Sources: oils (e.g. flaxseed, hempseed, soybean, sunflower, palm, rapeseed, evening primrose, canola, corn), seeds (e.g. flax, pumpkin, sunflower, hemp), nuts (e.g. pine nuts, brazil nuts, pistachio) and chicken.

Note: A study published by the the University of California in Aug 2012, found that men that ate 75g of walnuts every day over a 12 week period had significantly increased levels of omega-6 and omega-3 (ALA) fatty acids and experienced improvement in sperm vitality, motility, and morphology. They also had fewer chromosomal abnormalities in their sperm.


RDI

The following are the Reference Daily Intake or Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for nutrients mentioned above.

RDI values are based on the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) established in 1968. However RDI is currently the preferred system for nutritional labeling worldwide.
RDI values can be used as a tool when planning diets but are based on the requirements of normal healthy people.

The RDI is the daily intake level of a nutrient that is considered to be sufficient to meet the requirements of nearly all healthy individuals in a particular life stage and gender group.

The RDI is defined by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia as:
"The levels of intake of essential nutrients considered, in the judgement of the NHMRC, on the basis of available scientific knowledge, to be adequate to meet the known nutritional needs of practically all healthy people…they incorporate generous factors to accommodate variations in absorption and metabolism. They therefore apply to group needs. RDIs exceed the actual nutrient requirements of practically all healthy persons and are not synonymous with requirements."

Nutrient Reference Values for Males 18+ (published by NHMRC 2006)

  • Vitamin C - 45mg (RDI)
  • Vitamin E - 10mg (AI*)
  • Vitamin B6 - 1.3mg (RDI)
  • Vitamin B9 - 400μg (RDI)
  • Vitamin B12 - 2.4μg (RDI)
  • Selenium - 70μg (RDI)
  • Zinc - 14mg (RDI)
  • Omega-3, α-linolenic - 1.3g (AI*)
  • Omega-6, Linoleic - 13g (AI*)

* Adequate Intake (AI) is used when an RDI cannot be exactly determined. It is an approximation.

Mayo Clinic Recommendations (see http://www.mayoclinic.com/)

Arginine - 400→6000mg therapeutic dosage (maximum dose considered to be safe).
For erectile dysfunction, 5g of L-arginine has been taken by mouth daily for six weeks.
For infertility, up to 4g.
Coenzyme Q10 - 50→1200mg of CoQ10 have been taken in divided doses by mouth daily (for Adults 18+).

Linus Pauling Institute (http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/)

The Linus Pauling Institute recommends acetyl-L-carnitine at a daily dose of 500→1000mg.
The largest oral dose should not exceed 2g, as this is the limit your system will absorb in one dose.


Recommended Nutritionists

Some couples might find it easier to deal with a nutritionist specialised in fertility. Such nutritionists put together tailored nutrition plans to boost fertility.
Nutritionists, trained by Dr. Marilyn Glenville at 'Glenville Nutrition Ireland' perform medical tests to check nutrient levels known to be important for fertility. Based on these test results you will be advised how to optimise your chances of a successful pregnancy. For men a nutrition plan can improve sperm count, motility, morphology and reduce sperm DNA fragmentation. For women such a plan could balance hormones, improve ovulation and egg quality.
For more information go to www.glenvillenutrition.ie, email: info@glenvillenutrition.ie, or phone: 021 2340201.


In summary

Many of these important supplements are combined in Male Fertility supplement pills. Natural sources will come from eating fresh vegetables (dark and leafy), liver, fruits, whole grains, seeds (pumpkin is very good), fish, legumes, brown rice, nuts, flaxseed oil, evening primrose and fish oils.


Tips:
  • Reduce or eliminate processed and refined foods from the diet. This includes white flour, polished white rice, fast foods, sugar, alcohol, and caffeine.
  • Drink plenty of water. It is recommended that a man should drink 2.6Litres of fluid daily (Water/milk/other drinks).
  • Avoid saturated fats and hydrogenated oils. Instead of using butter or margarine, consider substituting any of the oils mentioned above.
  • Avoid hot baths and tight fitting pants.
  • Take a course of supplements for 3→4 months before receiving any fertility treatment. It takes 3 months for sperm to mature in the testes and benefits to take effect.

Note: Always read the label on any Nutritional Products. Use only as directed. Please see the label for a full list of ingredients. Consult your doctor or a qualified nutritionist prior to commencement of any course of supplements, in order to avoid unwanted side effects associated with your personal medical history.

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