Q & A Library
Food for Male Fertility?
My wife and I have been trying to conceive. Are there any changes I can make in my diet to increase the quality of my sperm? Foods to emphasize or avoid?
Answer (Published 6/3/2013)
Your question is well timed. My colleague Victoria Maizes, M.D., executive director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, has just published a book titled Be Fruitful: The Essential Guide to Maximizing Fertility and Giving Birth to a Healthy Child. (I wrote the foreword to this reliable and practical handbook for couples who want to conceive.)
Dr. Maizes addresses male as well as female fertility issues. Early on, she notes that antioxidants are especially important to male fertility and makes the point that 80 percent of American men don't get the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables a day that would provide those vital micronutrients. We know how important antioxidants are to healthy sperm following a scientific review of the medical literature from the Cochrane Library published in 2011. It suggested that oxidative stress may damage sperm cells and that sperm-related problems likely underlie many cases of unexplained subfertility. When such problems are identified, taking an oral antioxidant supplement can make a big difference: in the study, men who took the supplement were four times more likely to impregnate their partners than controls were, and the pregnancies were five times more likely to result in a live birth.
Dr. Maizes says that while prudent supplementing can address antioxidant shortfalls, it cannot match the benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables. Here are some other findings about how diet can influence male fertility discussed in the book:
Andrew Weil, M.D.
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