Building Better Swimmers: Nutrients for Healthy Sperm

Dr. Steven Pratt, MD, FACS, ABIHM

With Steve’s guidance, we created the original SuperFoodsRx grouping of 25 foods crucial to optimum human health. A diet rich in these SuperFoods forms the central concept of our nutritional recommendations.

You want champion swimmers when trying to make a baby. Despite what most people assume, it’s not all about the woman’s nutrition and body–men have to be on top of things, too!

So far we’ve covered environmental toxins that can be hindering sperm production, as well as getting a guy’s physical health in order. Now it’s time to look at nutrients for healthy sperm.

Getting proper nutrition is important for men trying to conceive, and a good diet makes for better sperm. In a study of fertility clinic patients, a diet low in antioxidants was correlated with poor semen quality. The researchers concluded that “men who eat large amounts of meat and full-fat dairy products have a lower seminal quality than those who eat more fruit, veggies, and reduced-fat dairy. Among the couples with fertility problems coming into the clinic, the men with good semen quality ate more vegetables and fruits than those men with low seminal quality.”

Basically, men should increase their intake of SuperFoods while trying to conceive. The following are the nutrients you need to make winning sperm. To get a list of the goods that correspond with these nutrients, click here.

  • Glutathione has been shown to increase sperm motility.
  • Cysteine-rich foods increase cellular glutathione.
  • Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant specifically found to increase fertility in men by preventing free-radical damage to the seminal plasma.
  • Astaxanthin is a carotenoid nutrient produced by algae, bacteria, and fungi and has been shown to have a positive effect on sperm motility and fertility while preventing DNA damage. If taking supplements of Astaxanthin, make sure it is natural and made from algae. Take as little as 1 mg per day with a meal.
  • Vitamin C levels also need to be high (1,000 mg per day) for optimal sperm count and protection for the sperm’s genetic material.
  • Vitamin B12 (1,000-6,000mg per day) is required to increase both sperm count, production and motility.
  • Vitamin E is an extremely powerful fat-soluble antioxidant that prevents free radical damage to sperm cells. The catch with vitamin E is that to receive the maximum benefits of it, you need to consume food sources of all eight different types of the vitamin on a daily basis: four tocopherols and four tocotrienols (i.e. If you make sure to eat a combo of walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and wheat germ, you are set.). If you choose to take supplements of vitamin E, they must contain a mixture of tocopherols and tocotrienols to be effective. Include a gamma-tocopherol supplement as well as alpha-tocopherol to keep the levels balanced. Also, make sure to use natural (d-alpha-tocopherol) rather than synthetic (dl-alpha tocopherol) vitamin E supplements.
  • Zinc through food and supplements is a must. Zinc deficiency is correlated with decreased testosterone level and sperm count. Deficient levels of it are often found in infertile men.
  • Selenium and glutathione are also essential to the formation of an enzyme in spermatids, cells that form into sperm. Deficiencies can lead to defective sperm motility.
  • DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil increases sperm tail motility, improving sperm quality overall.
  • CoQ10 is believed by researchers to increase male fertility by decreasing free radical damage.
  • Taurine is an amino acid that functions as an antioxidant and detoxification molecule, making for healthier sperm.
  • Resveratrol preserves optimum semen and sperm health. Although red wine is high in resveratrol content, alcohol is not recommended for fertility and conception — and there are plenty of other ways to get it in your diet. Resveratrol supplements should not exceed 40 mg per day.

For specific foods that can contain these nutrients, click here.

This article was excerpted from the book SuperFoodsRx for Pregnancy by Steven Pratt, M.D

More in This Series

Building Better Sperm: Cleaning Up Your Act – Easy ways to remove toxins from your environment.

Building Better Sperm: Use It Or Lose It! – How to get your physical health in top shape.

Building Better Swimmers: Foods for Healthy Sperm – Food to help those little guys thrive.

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