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Low sperm count is an issue that affects around a third of couples who are struggling to conceive. The reasons behind it are complex, but they can include medical, lifestyle, and dietary factors.
One of the ways to increase sperm count is to adopt a healthy diet, making sure you include foods that are linked to improved male fertility and sperm health.
Micronutrients to enrich your diet, via food sources and/or supplementation, include vitamins B, C, and E, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids. These all have scientific evidence to link them to enhanced sperm quality.
Low sperm count, or oligozoospermia to use its scientific name, is a common condition affecting around 1 in 3 couples struggling to conceive. If a man’s semen sample is found to contain fewer than 15 million sperm per millilitre, this is considered to be a low sperm count.
Perhaps you’ve been diagnosed with low sperm count and are receiving treatment or maybe you simply want to know how to boost your sperm levels before trying for a baby. Whatever your situation, did you know that one of the ways to increase sperm count is by changing your diet?
Read on to find out about the sperm-boosting nutrients that you can factor into your meals.
Reasons Behind Low Sperm Count
There are many complex reasons behind problems with sperm count and quality, and consultation with your doctor will help you to get the treatment you need if your low sperm count has a medical explanation. This could include a genital infection, a structural issue with the tubes that carry sperm, or a genetic problem such as Klinefelter syndrome.
However, there are also certain lifestyle choices that can reduce your sperm count. Lack of exercise, drinking a lot of alcohol, smoking, and taking recreational drugs can all take their toll on your fertility. Making changes to your lifestyle, then, could be one way to increase sperm count and help you become a dad more quickly.
Nutrients and Vitamins to Increase Sperm Volume
Low sperm count can also be associated with dietary issues, particularly being overweight or obese. In contrast, eating a healthy, nutrient-rich diet – alongside an active lifestyle – can help you lose weight and improve your sperm count and overall fertility. Let’s take a look at some of the key nutrients linked to sperm health.
The B-complex vitamins are a group of eight micronutrients that play various important roles in your body. Two of the vitamins that have a particular impact on male fertility are folate (B9) and B12 (cobalamin).
Folate: Low folate levels have been associated with both lower sperm density and lower sperm count, so it stands to reason that increasing the amount of folate in your diet could have a positive impact on your sperm health.
Foods rich in folate include: nuts, beans, and pulses; green leafy veg and citrus fruits; and whole grains.
Vitamin B12: Multiple studies suggest that B12 can help improve sperm count and motility (how well the sperm cell swims), and reduce sperm DNA damage.
Good sources of B12 are: red and white meat; fish and seafood; eggs and dairy products; and yeast extract.
Note: B12 is a nutrient to watch if you’re following a vegan diet and want to improve your sperm count. As it doesn’t occur naturally in plant foods, you’ll probably need to take a supplement.
Coenzyme Q10 and Vitamins C and E
These micronutrients are all important antioxidants. That means they tackle the harmful effects of substances called reactive oxygen species (ROS) in your body. ROS can cause oxidative stress that damages your cells, including your sperm cells. It’s thought that the exposure of sperm cells to oxidative stress is a contributing factor to male infertility.
By protecting sperm from oxidative stress, coenzyme Q10 and vitamins C and E may help improve sperm quality, including concentration and motility. One study from the International Journal of Reproductive BioMedicine showed that “antioxidant supplements, especially a combination of antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and CoQ10 intake can effectively improve semen parameters in infertile men”.
Vitamin C: A diet that includes plenty of fruit and veg will boost your vitamin C levels. Try eating citrus fruits and berries, green leafy veg, tomatoes, salad peppers, and potatoes.
Vitamin E: Good dietary sources of vitamin E are nuts and seeds, vegetable oils, and green leafy veg.
Coenzyme Q10: Foods that contain coenzyme Q10 include fish, red and white meat, nuts and seeds, and vegetable oils.
The mineral zinc is very important for the male body as it helps to regulate testosterone production, which in turn maintains fertility. In fact, one study demonstrated that infertile men had lower zinc levels than fertile men.
To increase the amount of zinc in your diet, try eating nuts and beans, whole grains, dairy products, shellfish, and red and white meat.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are an important family of polyunsaturated fats, which form an essential part of cell membranes through the whole body. As your body can’t make these fats on its own, you need to get them through your diet. Some research into male fertility suggests that omega-3 supplements can result in enhanced sperm count, sperm motility, and sperm morphology (shape).
Dietary sources of omega-3 include fish and seafood, vegetable oils, and nuts and seeds.
A type of amino acid, D-aspartic acid contributes to the regulation of testosterone in your body. One study of D-aspartic acid supplementation found that the participants had a significant increase in sperm count after taking the supplement for 90 days.
Foods rich in D-aspartic acid are dairy products and eggs, fruit, whole grains, and red and white meat.
Zinc, Maca & Ginseng
Zinc, Maca and Ginseng are a powerful and scientifically proven threesome when it comes to boosting testosterone and, in turn, virility. One tablet a day to keep your testosterone levels up.
These micronutrients are all great ways to boost your fertility through your diet. And remember you can try a supplement too. But for other ways to increase your sperm count, don’t forget those important lifestyle factors: staying active, reducing alcohol, and stopping smoking can be game-changers in the quest to become a dad.