Unlike women who are born with all the eggs they will inside their ovaries, a man’s body creates sperm every day. Sperm is produced in the testicles and hormones such as testosterone stimulate the production of sperm. As per WHO guidelines, normal sperm count can range anywhere from 15 million to more than 200 million sperm count per ml of semen. Shape of sperm is also important. Sperm must also have an oval shaped head, a midpiece and a tail. Motility is the ability of sperm to swim in a straight forward direction to reach the egg and measured as the percentage of moving sperm cells in a sample of semen.
Factors that Affect Sperm Production
In order to improve fertility, there are certain things you can try at home, some of which include eating the right diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, quitting smoking, and avoiding stress amongst other things.
There are a number of factors that can affect sperm count. Some of them include certain medical conditions, genetic disorders, infections and even stress. Sometimes nutritional deficiencies can be the cause of low sperm production. Men are often able to boost their sperm quality and quantity by meeting the nutritional gap in their diet.
Which Vitamins Boost the Production of Sperm?
After consulting your doctor, include the following vitamins and supplements in your diet. Studies have shown that it may be able to boost male fertility.
Vitamin C is commonly known to boost the immune system because of its antioxidant properties. A study has shown that taking 1000mg vitamin C twice a day for up to 2 months increased sperm motility by 60% and sperm count by more than 100%. It also increased the normal morphology of sperm cells by 67%.1
D-aspartic acid (D-AA) is a type of amino acid present in the testicles, semen and sperm cells. D-AA levels are much lower in infertile men than fertile men and it has been shown that D-AA supplements may increase testosterone levels as well as sperm count and motility.2
Vitamin B12 is involved in cellular energy production and is important for sperm production. It is also needed for red blood cell formation, normal functioning of the brain and nervous system and for DNA production. Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin and many vegetarians are likely to have a dietary B12 deficiency since it is mostly found in meat, fish and dairy products. Vegan men also receive little vitamin B12 in their diets. Studies show that sperm count in men who have B12 deficiency may be improved with supplemental doses of Vitamin B12.3
Zinc has been shown to raise testosterone levels, promote fertility and help in muscle growth. Zinc is found in meats, eggs, nuts, seeds, lentils, yoghurt, oats and mushrooms. However, too much zinc in semen may damage sperm. Studies have shown that taking zinc supplements may increase testosterone levels and sperm count in those who are low in zinc.4
Vitamin D is also known as the sunshine vitamin. This vitamin affects many physiological functions including male fertility. One study found that men with higher Vitamin D levels had improved overall fertility and sperm count. Close to 40% of Indians are vitamin D deficient even though most parts of the country get abundant sunlight throughout the year.5
Folic acid is a B vitamin that’s important for the development of red blood cells, DNA production and cell division. One study found that combined supplementation of folic acid and zinc for a period of 26 weeks increased total sperm count in men. However other studies have found no effect of taking folic acid and zinc supplements on male fertility. A natural way to get more folic acid into your diet is by regularly including green leafy vegetables.6
Vitamin E is an antioxidant. A combination of antioxidants such as vitamin C, E and CoQ10 intake can improve semen parameters in infertile men according to one study.7
Selenium is important for normal testicular development, sperm formation, motility and function and is also an antioxidant. There was a 52% improvement in sperm motility, morphology as well as 10% increased rate of pregnancy in a study which used selenium and Vitamin E.8
Botanicals and Other Nutrients that May Boost Male Fertility
Ashwagandha (Indian ginseng) is a shrub found in India and North Africa and used in Ayurvedic medicine. It may improve male fertility by boosting testosterone levels. One study has found that Ashwagandha use caused a 53% increase in semen volume, a 57% increase in sperm motility and a 167% increase in sperm count.9
Shilajit is also used in Ayurvedic medicine. It is a sticky substance produced by the slow decomposition of plants and is found mainly in Himalayan rocks. In one study, a group of 60 infertile men took shilajit twice a day for 90 days after meals. More than 60 percent of the study participants showed an increase in total sperm count and more than 12 percent had an increase in sperm motility. It can also increase testosterone levels.10
Omega 3 fatty acids are associated with male fertility because sperm contains a lot of omega-3 fatty acids and they influence sperm morphology, count, motility as well as improved antioxidant activity. However, it takes some time for it to come into effect. Avoid eating products with transfats like potato chips and processed baked goods which are deleterious for sperm and testosterone levels. Try supplementing your diet with fish oils, flax seeds or walnuts.11
Lycopene is a natural pigment found in many fruits and vegetables that give them their bright yellow, orange and red colors. It is believed to improve sperm count by as much as 70%.12
Fenugreek extract used in a study showed that it improved testosterone levels, sexual function and sexual frequency.13
Coenzyme Q10 is an enzyme and is found in semen. Higher concentrations are correlated with high sperm count and better motility.14
How long should men take vitamins to boost sperm production?
Sperm take 72-90 days to develop and most fertility experts recommend taking supplements for 90 days or longer to see the best results. Taking these supplements for 30 days can also make a difference.
Vitamins, minerals and antioxidants have been shown to improve fertility and if getting these from foods is hard, then consider taking supplements according to each individual’s deficiency. In general, improving health will also boost fertility. There’s no guaranteed fix but if the reason for infertility is due to nutrient deficiencies, then these tips may help. Visit Xenith Advanced Fertility Clinic and let us help you diagnose the cause of your infertility. Things may change as you focus on a healthy diet that meets the nutritional gaps in your life. After a thorough diagnosis, the team at Xenith will offer an array of treatment options. Early diagnosis and treatment are advisable.