by Margaret Eich, MS, RDN
Nutrition and lifestyle habits can have an important impact on male fertility. Did you know that carrying extra weight is associated with lower sperm quality? Diabetes also may impair sperm quality. Making changes to your diet like limiting added sugar and refined carbs and maximizing fruit and vegetable intake can not only support achieving a healthy weight but also may help improve sperm quality.
In addition, there are specific nutrients that may be helpful for optimizing sperm quality.
1. Omega-3 fatty acids : the outer covering or membrane around sperm is rich in the omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, which help maintain the membrane fluidity allowing for fertilization of the egg. Foods rich in EPA and DHA, include fatty fish like wild salmon and sardines. Egg yolks may also contain some DHA. Our body can convert small amounts of the plant form of omega-3 fatty acids, ALA or alpha-linolenic acid (found in flaxseed, walnuts, and chia seeds), to EPA and DHA, but only small amounts. The main health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids seem to be attributable to EPA and DHA.
2. Folate: Folate is essential for DNA synthesis and repair and may play a role in ensuring the integrity of DNA within the sperm. Folate-rich foods include leafy greens, spinach, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, oranges, and avocado.
3. Antioxidants: Antioxidants include nutrients like vitamins A, C, and E and the pigments that make up fruits and vegetables. Carrots, winter squash, and sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A, while strawberries, oranges, broccoli, and red peppers are rich in vitamin C. Vitamin E-rich foods including almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, peanuts and peanut butter, and avocado.
Pulling Down the Moon nutritionists are not only experts in fertility nutrition for women, but we also specialize in using nutrition to optimize male fertility. Appointments available in-center or via phone or video conference for your convenience.