Fertility

Creating Super Sperm with Supplements and Superfoods

Eloise Edington  |  31 Aug 2021


Learning about how diet and lifestyle changes can improve sperm health is a great way to actively consider how your day-to-day actions can affect your fertility when trying to conceive. Making these little tweaks may have an impact on your fertility, especially if you were unaware of these tips.

To guide you in the right direction, The Ribbon Box have reached out to Legacy to give you some simple ideas on how vitamins, food groups and nutrients can improve sperm health.

Words by Legacy

Lifestyle

When it comes to male fertility, lifestyle is (almost) everything. The testes are creating sperm every minute of every day, so nearly every regular habit — from how much you sleep to what kind of underwear you choose — may have an impact on your fertility.

While that means you may have to live more carefully while you’re trying to conceive, it also means that people who produce sperm have the opportunity to improve their fertility just by improving their lifestyle.

It may be hyperbolic to say diet and supplements can create super sperm, but it’s undoubtedly true that certain nutrients have been associated with improved sperm health and overall male fertility. Let’s review the research.

Supplements for Male Fertility

Supplements for Male Fertility

When it comes to male fertility supplements, there’s no “silver bullet” for sperm health — no one capsule that can undo other poor lifestyle choices, such as smoking. But certain vitamins, antioxidants and nutrients can help support fertility by giving the body what it needs to produce healthy sperm and protect that sperm from damage.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants are compounds that protect our body’s cells from the negative impact of reactive oxygen species (ROS), also known as “free radicals.”

Quick bio lesson: ROS are unstable molecules present in our cells. They are created as a result of daily processes, such as metabolism, and are found at low, stable levels in healthy bodies. The presence of ROS can be increased during times of illness, or due to toxin exposure or poor lifestyle.

Antioxidants work chemically to neutralise free radicals. You need the right level of antioxidants — which can be produced by our bodies or acquired through our diets — to keep free radicals in check.

If the balance is off, the ROS can damage cells. This is a phenomenon known as “oxidative stress.” Oxidative stress has a detrimental impact on many cells in the body, including sperm cells, and can affect sperm motility (movement), morphology (shape) and genetic health.

Preventing oxidative stress can be accomplished by lowering the levels of ROS in the body — perhaps by quitting smoking or reducing exposure to toxins — or by increasing antioxidant intake through diet and supplementation. A good strategy to improve fertility includes both.

The antioxidants with good evidence to support their use for sperm health include:

  • CoQ10 – Most widely known as a supplement for female fertility, CoQ10 is an antioxidant and a nutrient that’s critical for metabolism, and it’s been shown to improve sperm health, as well. One analysis found that supplementation with CoQ10 had a significant impact on sperm count and motility; another added strength to that association by concluding CoQ10 had a “profound effect” on sperm motility.
  • Vitamin C – One study found that taking 2,000mg daily of Vitamin C was associated with doubled sperm counts, as well as increased motility by over 90%; morphology increased by 50%. But you don’t need a super-dose of this fertility vitamin to see results; another study found that men with infertility who were assigned just 750mg of Vitamin C daily had significantly better motility and morphology measures than the control group.
  • Selenium – Selenium is an important trace mineral (a term that means you only need a very small amount) with antioxidant properties. While many studies have looked at the impact of taking selenium along with other antioxidants, more recent research has demonstrated that, even when taken on its own, selenium is associated with improved sperm count, motility and morphology, plus lower levels of oxidative stress.
  • Vitamin E – In combination with other antioxidants like Vitamin C, Vitamin E has been shown to reduce sperm DNA fragmentation (SDF), the term for damage to the genetic material carried inside sperm. Elevated SDF is associated with infertility, poor embryo quality during IVF and pregnancy loss. Vitamin E can help with fertility as it has also been shown to improve sperm motility when taken in combination with selenium.
  • Lycopene – Lycopene is the compound that gives fruits and veggies like tomatoes and watermelon a pink-red hue. One review found that, when consumed in the form of a supplement, lycopene was associated with decreased oxidative stress and sperm DNA damage and increased sperm count, motility and morphology, for both healthy men and men diagnosed with infertility.

Related Article – Can Intermittent Fasting Improve Male Fertility?

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is actually a hormone, and it plays a potential role in immune response, pregnancy loss, and male fertility, among other processes. Vitamin D is not found in many foods, and humans are expected to acquire the majority of it from sun exposure. As a result, most people in the Western world are vitamin D-deficient.

In one review, Vitamin D supplementation was associated with a “consistent effect” on sperm quality, improving motility as well as capacitation (the final changes a sperm undergoes before fertilising the egg). In another, Vitamin D administration was also associated with improved motility. In a third study, infertile men treated with Vitamin D were able to produce a significantly higher number of pregnancies.

Zinc

Commonly described as one of the most essential elements for male fertility, zinc is involved in a number of reproductive processes, such as sperm production and testosterone release.

Supplementation with zinc has been associated with a significant increase in semen volume, sperm motility and normal sperm morphology — especially in combination with folate, according to multiple studies.

Related Article – The Importance of Fertility Nutrients and Supplements for Egg / Sperm Health

Folate

You may associate folate, a B vitamin, with pregnancy, as it is essential in the development of the baby’s brain and nervous system (and is a key ingredient in prenatal vitamins). However, it’s also critical to the production and maturation of sperm. In supplements, folate is usually found as folic acid or 5-MTHF (5-methyltetrahydrofolate); 5-MTHF is the more “active” version.

A 2017 review found strong evidence that folate supplementation was associated with increased sperm counts in men with fertility issues. (This effect was even stronger when combined with zinc, and patients who received both nutrients had improved morphology as well). Another study found that the combination of folate, Vitamin E and selenium supplements was associated with a statistically significant improvement in sperm count and motility.

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L-carnitine

L-carnitine is a compound derived from an amino acid; it helps transport fatty acids into your cells’ mitochondria — the powerhouse of the cell, if you remember 8th-Grade science — to facilitate energy production in the body. Supplementation with L-carnitine has been shown to improve sperm motility, possibly by supporting mitochondrial function.

Several studies (1, 2, 3) found that administration of L-carnitine was associated with an increase in sperm motility for men dealing with infertility. In one trial, researchers found that taking L-carnitine was associated with improved motility and increased activity of acrosin, the enzyme that helps sperm penetrate the egg for fertilisation. In another, taking L-carnitine for several weeks prior to IVF and with ICSI cycle was shown to increase fertilisation rates by 11.5%.

Related Article – Gut Health – Why is the Mediterranean Diet So Good For Fertility?

Legacy’s Male Fertility Supplements

Legacy’s supplement is a science-backed multivitamin developed by experts to support healthy sperm production and fertility. It contains all of the above ingredients, in their most bioavailable forms, at the proper dosage to optimise male fertility. Instead of mixing and matching ten supplements per day, you can now take a twice-daily vegetarian capsule — making sperm health improvement a no-brainer.

Get the male fertility supplements here. Use the code FHH20 for 20% off. Available in the US only.

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D-aspartic acid

D-aspartic acid is an amino acid that likely plays a role in regulating the release and synthesis of testosterone. Testosterone is a male hormone that’s a key part of the process of creating sperm, not to mention being critical for sexual health and overall wellness.

One study showed that supplementing with D-AA for 90 days increased the concentration and motility of sperm, nearly doubling concentration and boosting motility by over 50%. Ultimately, this led to an improvement in the rate of pregnancies among those taking D-AA.

Superfoods for Male Fertility

Superfoods for Male Fertility

Supplements are not the only source of the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals shown to improve sperm health. You can also acquire many of these nutrients naturally through a healthy diet.

Fruits and vegetables

Obviously, eating your fruits and veggies is so important for so many aspects of health. Many fruits, such as citrus and strawberries, and vegetables like bell peppers and broccoli contain high levels of the antioxidant Vitamin C, which — as discussed above — can improve sperm health. Did you know that a bell pepper contains more Vitamin C than your average orange, plus other nutrients like folate?

Green vegetables including spinach, kale, and Brussels sprouts are the best food sources for folate. However, it’s pretty hard to get enough folate to improve sperm health from diet alone; that’s why a supplement is often recommended.

Seafood and shellfish

Shellfish include both crustaceans (lobster, crab, shrimp) and molluscs (clams, mussels, oysters, scallops). Shellfish contain zinc as well as omega-3 fatty acids, which serve as important structural components of sperm cell membranes and enhance antioxidant activity in seminal fluid. Oysters, specifically, are an excellent source of zinc.

Other fish — especially cold-water fish like salmon — are also a good source of omega-3s, along with other essential nutrients such as Vitamin B12. B12 is involved in the creation of DNA (like the DNA inside your sperm), and can only be found in animal foods like fish, or fortified foods.

Seafood, including tuna, halibut, sardines and shrimp are also great sources of selenium.

Related Article – Fertility Specialists – How to Improve Egg Quality Through Nutrition with Sandra Greenbank

Nuts & Seeds

Nuts and seeds contain high levels of several important nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin E, and selenium.

Sunflower seeds (as well as almonds and hazelnuts) are a great source of Vitamin E. Sunflower seeds contain Vitamin E, 32% of your daily recommended intake of selenium, zinc, folate and healthy fats, making them an all-around powerhouse natural and healthy food for male fertility. Pumpkin seeds also contain zinc; flax and chia seeds are additional sources of omega-3s.

One study — humorously called the “FERTINUTS” study — found that men who ate a Western diet supplemented with 60g of mixed nuts saw improvement in sperm count, motility, morphology and sperm DNA fragmentation.

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Another found similar results with only walnuts; those eating 75g of walnuts in addition to the typical Western diet showed greater vitality, motility and morphology than the group avoiding tree nuts. This is likely because of the omega-3 fatty acids in these nuts, researchers concluded.

Finally, Brazil nuts are one of the best sources of selenium. A little goes a long way — just four Brazil nuts contain close to the upper limit of selenium for adults, 400mcg.

A healthy lifestyle, natural food and supplements can all be used for improving male fertility. Incorporating healthy and natural foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish into your diet can be great for improving male fertility as you may not have been consciously consuming these nutrients before. Now that you know what might work best for you, you may decide to improve your lifestyle through diet and supplementation. For more information on diets and lifestyle changes to make when trying to conceive, subscribe to TRB newsletter.

If you would like to purchase Legacy’s male fertility supplements, use the discount code “FHH20” at checkout for 20% off male fertility supplements.

Available in the US. 

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