Fertility issues affect millions of people around the world. The way to maintain healthy fertility involves many different factors – some nutritional, some rooted in lifestyle. In this article, we’ll explore which vitamins play a role in fertility and whether certain vitamin supplements can support healthy male fertility.
Male fertility has to do with the ability of men (or those assigned male at birth) to reproduce. It concerns the production of sperm by the testes, which enables men to fertilize an egg; likewise it concerns the capacity for getting an erection and ejaculating sperm that reaches the egg. A male can be said to be experiencing fertility issues after a year of regular and unprotected sex with a female partner fails to result in a pregnancy.
Fertility issues are surprisingly common, affecting between 8% and 12% of couples of reproductive age. Men are responsible for between 20% and 30% of couple-based instances of infertility, while accounting for about half of all cases.
There are many different factors that affect male fertility, including environmental factors, lifestyle, genetics, and more. Some key terms to know when thinking about fertility include: libido, sperm count, sperm motility, and testosterone levels.
Libido is a Latin word that means “desire” or “lust,” and was popularized by Sigmund Freud as a concept for his theories. The term today basically means a person’s sex drive and all-around desire to have sex. Libido is shaped by biological, motivational-affective, and cognitive factors.
Sperm count plays a big role in semen quality. It describes the concentration of sperm cells in a given amount of semen. Your sperm count is an important determinant of fertility.
Sperm motility is basically the measure of how well the sperm cells swim. Healthy sperm cells swim well, and sperm motility is measured as the percentage of sperm cells that are moving in a sample of semen.
Testosterone is sometimes called “the male sex hormone,” and low levels of it can be a problem for male fertility and sex drive. Healthy testosterone levels, on the other hand, promote healthy libido and male fertility.
Fertility issues often have multiple causes. Healthy fertility has to do with general health and fitness, diet, genetics, and more. Certain vitamins and nutrients play a key role in promoting healthy fertility, too.
Zinc is a vitally important nutrient in the promotion of sexual wellness. Your body needs it for sperm production, healthy sperm motility, and healthy sperm count. Animal studies have found that zinc concentration has a clear and direct relationship to sperm quality. Results are mixed when it comes to zinc supplementation and improved sexual health–some studies have shown that zinc supplementation improved sperm motility, while other studies didn’t replicate these findings. It’s important to try to get the recommended dietary allowance of zinc, which is 11 mg daily. Care/of’s zinc is high quality and available in your customized 30-day packs.
Folate is an important B vitamin. Per this double-blind randomized placebo-controlled study, the combination of folic acid and zinc can boost sperm count. Other clinical studies, however, found that folate by itself did not boost male fertility.
Carnitine is the generic term that describes a number of compounds, including L-carnitine, acetyl-L-carnitine, and propionyl-L-carnitine. It can help support healthy sperm motility, but it doesn’t change sperm volume or concentration.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that boasts a range of health benefits. Among its well known benefits – immune support among them – vitamin C may support semen quality.
Because sperm is susceptible to oxidative damage from free radicals, vitamin C’s antioxidant properties may go a long way in combating the free radicals and supporting male fertility. This study found that vitamin C can promote healthy sperm count and motility.
Studies on vitamin C supplementation and sperm health have been mixed, however, with some finding that it may improve semen quality through managing oxidative stress and others finding that vitamin C supplementation had no effect. Nevertheless, it’s important to get the daily recommended allowance of vitamin C, which, for men, is 90 mg per day. Care/of’s vitamin C is formulated for absorption and comes in 30-day packs.
Vitamin D is important for your body’s bone health and immune functioning. Per this study, low vitamin D levels can sometimes be linked to sexual health issues such as lower sperm count and reduced sperm motility. Vitamin D is also important for maintaining healthy testosterone levels. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin D is 600 IU (15 mcg). Care/of’s vitamin D is easy to digest and comes in 30-day supplies.
Selenium, a mineral found in the soil, is important for thyroid health. Thyroid health, meanwhile, can have an impact on sperm health. This study found that oral selenium supplementation can promote sperm motility and chances of conception. While not all participants in the study experienced these changes, a majority (56%) did.
Vitamin E is the collective term for a group of fat-soluble antioxidants; they protect against harmful free radicals and can protect sperm from damage related to oxidative stress. This study reported that men who were supplemented with vitamin E and selenium for three months had improved oxidative stress and sperm motility.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) can rightly be considered one of the most well researched supplements for male fertility. It’s an antioxidant that’s naturally produced in your body and then stored in your mitochondria, which are essential energy-producing factories in your cells. The antioxidant qualities associated with CoQ10 may play a role in protecting your sperm from harmful free radicals.
Per this study, CoQ10 levels in seminal fluid have been correlated with healthy sperm. Furthermore, a meta-analysis of 15 randomized clinical trials suggested that some dietary CoQ10 can boost sperm quality, particularly in sperm count and sperm motility. Another review found that men who were supplemented with CoQ10 saw increased sperm concentration and sperm motility compared with a group that took a placebo.
Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish oil supplements, are a crucial part of any health diet, helping to provide for general health and wellness.
The fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) also happen to be important components of sperm cell membranes–and some studies have found that omega-3 fatty acid consumption correlates to healthy sperm quality. Furthermore, per this recent review, men who took omega-3 treatments had better sperm motility compared to the placebo group. Additional studies are needed before this can be considered conclusive.
If you’re not getting enough fatty fish, walnuts, or chia and flax seeds, it might be in your interest to take fish oil supplements. Care/of offers a top-notch fish oil supplement, sustainably sourced from Alaskan salmon.
D-aspartic acid is an endogenous amino acid. While more research is needed, there is some evidence to suggest that d-aspartic acid may increase the release of a particular hormone in the brain that leads to greater testosterone production. However, most studies of the effects of d-aspartic acid supplementation have focused on men involved in resistance training, which can itself boost testosterone production. There’s a need for more, well-designed studies to determine conclusively. Still, D-aspartic acid is a popular ingredient in supplements for boosting testosterone production.
Alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant made naturally by the body. Systematic reviews have demonstrated its potential for managing oxidative stress. As noted previously, oxidative stress can have negative effects on male fertility and overall sexual health. Thus alpha lipoic acid’s antioxidant effects can support overall health, including sexual health.
Ashwagandha is a popular adaptogen, which is a term for herbs that help support the body’s response to certain stressors. Per this study, men who used adaptogen supplements saw improved sperm count and sperm motility.
And, according to this study, ashwagandha promotes sexual wellness in men. At 90 days, the men who took the ashwagandha saw a significant increase in sperm concentration compared to the baseline. Other semen parameters also improved, including semen volume and sperm motility. Moreover, researchers noticed increases in testosterone, which can also stimulate sperm production.
Care/of’s ashwagandha is harvested in India and has been shown to promote sexual wellness.
While the above supplements can support fertility, there are also some natural, holistic ways to boost fertility. Supporting your overall health is the best way to support good sexual health. Some steps you can take include:
If, after 12 months of unprotected, timed intercourse with your female partner, a pregnancy hasn’t been achieved, you might want to discuss your situation with a doctor. A doctor can help you come with a treatment plan specific to your circumstances.
There are a number of vitamins and nutrients that can support male fertility and sexual wellness. Moreover, there are many popular supplements available, as well. Talk to your doctor before adding any new supplements to your routine.
Male fertility and sexual wellness can also be promoted through natural means, including certain lifestyle tweaks – getting enough exercise, staying hydrated, getting rest, eating a nutrient-rich diet, and managing stress.
If fertility problems persist for a year, you may want to talk to a medical professional about the best approach for you.