Hi, my name is Allison Schaaf. My own fertility journey, including five miscarriages, inspired me to create this website to help you navigate your own fertility path.
Here are the key takeaways I would share with you as a friend:
- Male factor infertility is responsible for 25-30% of infertility.
- For men who want to support reproductive health with nutrition, some of the best vitamins are C, E, and D.
- Nutrients like selenium, zinc, DHA and EPA, CoQ10, and maca root may also help, though more research is needed.
I also recommend you do your own research and work with your doctor. That is why I have coordinated these articles with the nitty-gritty details and links to research so you can make an informed decision on what works best for you… read on for more! And—don’t miss my Next Steps section at the bottom.
Other Nutrients That May Support Male Fertility
Fertility is a complicated issue for both men and women. When couples are experiencing trouble getting pregnant or are struggling with miscarriage, it can be frustrating to try and figure out the underlying causes. More often than not, there is more than one factor at play when fertility struggles are present. Male factor infertility is responsible for 25-30% of infertility, so addressing sperm health is important 1.
While it’s always best to work alongside your healthcare provider to determine the best steps forward, sometimes natural options like fertility vitamins for men can be used to help support reproductive health.
Here are some of the best vitamins for men that may be worth considering if you are experiencing fertility concerns, recurrent miscarriages, or just want to support male reproductive health when planning for the future.
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps protect our cells from free radical damage. It may also play a role in supporting healthy semen for men. This is because sperm are especially susceptible to the adverse effects of oxidative stress, which happens when there’s an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the body.
Overall, research is mixed on how much vitamin C can help improve sperm quality 2. However, studies have shown that 30-80% of male subfertility cases result from oxidative stress damage on sperm 3. Antioxidant-rich foods are a great way to help offer some natural protection.
Whether or not it helps fertility directly, getting enough vitamin C is important for overall wellness and it’s easy to find in foods. Some of the best natural sources include citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit, lemons, and limes, as well as kiwi, broccoli, tomatoes, berries, and bell peppers 4.
Vitamin E is actually a term that describes a group of fat-soluble vitamins that act as antioxidants in the body. They play such a notable role in sperm health that researchers believe they act directly on the mitochondria to help protect sperm from oxidative damage. Some studies have found that vitamin E helps reduce the level of DNA damage in sperm among men with fertility issues, and when combined with selenium, it could improve sperm motility, sperm morphology, or both 5.
The best places to find vitamin E include nuts and seeds, such as almonds, cashews, walnuts, and sunflower seeds. You can also get vitamin E from leafy green vegetables, like turnip greens and spinach, as well as wheat germ and hazelnut oil.
Another fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin D is best known for its role in bone health. However, research has suggested that vitamin D is also involved in male reproductive health. It appears that getting enough vitamin D may have a positive effect on sperm motility and pregnancy outcomes, such as reducing miscarriage, for some people 6.
Vitamin D is produced when our skin is exposed to direct sunlight. However, most of us don’t get enough consistent sun exposure to meet our needs this way. In the diet, vitamin D is found in fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and herring, as well as fortified milk products and UV-treated mushrooms. Vitamin D supplements are also widely available. Choose vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) over vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) for the most effectiveness 7.
The best way to know whether you’re getting enough vitamin D is to have your blood levels checked by your healthcare provider. This will help determine whether a supplemental maintenance dose is appropriate or if there is a deficiency to correct.
Other Nutrients That May Support Male Fertility
In addition to the vitamins above, below are some other nutrients and supplements that may be helpful for supporting male fertility. Note that more research is needed to determine the best dosing for this purpose.
Also known as ubiquinol or ubiquinone, CoQ10 is one of the most well-studied supplements for supporting male fertility. While CoQ10 is naturally produced in the mitochondria of cells, studies suggest that it has antioxidant activity that can help protect sperm from free radical damage. This may help increase sperm motility and concentration 8.
Zinc is an essential mineral involved in many aspects of cellular metabolism. It plays a key role in sperm production and function. Research has found that the concentration of zinc in semen is directly related to the overall quality of the sperm itself. Furthermore, low levels of zinc are often found in the sperm of men who struggle with infertility, suggesting a correlation 9.
Zinc has to be replenished on a daily basis, so it’s a good idea to include sources of the mineral in your daily diet. Some of the best places to find dietary zinc include fish, lentils, pumpkin seeds, fortified cereals, poultry, and beef.
Zinc is also found in standard multivitamins. Supplements often contain chelated forms of zinc, such as zinc gluconate, zinc citrate, zinc picolinate, or zinc acetate, because they are better absorbed than zinc on its own.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The more omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA you consume, the healthier sperm you may have. These fats are found in the cell membranes of sperm and getting enough of them may help increase sperm motility 10.
While DHA and EPA are predominantly found in fatty fish, they can also be found in fish oil and algae oil supplements. Their precursor, ALA, is found in foods like walnuts and flax seeds, but the conversion rate from ALA to EPA and DHA is low, so it’s best to also have some direct sources of the latter two 11.
Some studies have found that not getting enough selenium may be associated with reduced sperm health 12 13. Additionally, some men with infertility have been found to have low levels of selenium circulating in their bloodstream 14. Selenium helps boost antioxidant production in the body, which helps protect semen against oxidative stress 15.
However, the research isn’t strong enough to supplement with selenium. In fact, too much of this mineral can have adverse effects on fertility and other aspects of health.
The best way to incorporate selenium into your diet is through natural food sources, such as cottage cheese, fish, rice, or poultry. One Brazil nut contains 96 mcg of selenium, which is nearly twice the recommended daily allowance for adult men, so use these sparingly.
While the research is limited, some studies suggest that maca root may have benefits for male fertility. For instance, some studies have observed that maca root supplementation may help increase sperm concentration 16 17.
One of the primary ways to support male fertility is by doing things to help improve sperm count, quality, and motility. For men who want to support reproductive health with nutrition, some of the best vitamins are C, E, and D. Additionally, nutrients like selenium, zinc, DHA and EPA, CoQ10, and maca root may have their own benefits, though more research is needed. It’s best to get these nutrients from whole food sources as much as possible, but there are also supplemental options, for example, FertilAid for men contains all of these nutrients, except for the DHA & EPA, which you can receive in a separate supplement, like this one.
Remember that more isn’t always better and it’s best to practice caution with supplements. Be sure to look for supplements that have been third-party tested for safety, quality, and purity. Always speak with your healthcare provider before adding anything new to your routine to make sure the type and dosage are safe and appropriate for you — especially if you’re experiencing fertility concerns.
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Next Steps to Consider
When talking about reproductive health, it’s important not to forget about male fertility. In order to support your fertility best, consider these steps:
- Speak with your healthcare provider regarding any fertility concerns you may have.
- Prioritize getting well-rounded nutrition from your diet, including a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods that provide fertility-supporting nutrients.
- Look for a men’s multivitamin that contains:
- Vitamins C, E, and D
- Coenzyme Q10
- For Example: Fairhaven Health FertilAid for Men
- You may need to find a separate Omega-3 supplement, like this one, if you don’t regularly consume fish and seafood, as these are not included in all multivitamins.
- Read more about sperm health in our article on sperm DNA fragmentation.
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|⇧2||Rafiee B, Morowvat MH, Rahimi-Ghalati N. Comparing the Effectiveness of Dietary Vitamin C and Exercise Interventions on Fertility Parameters in Normal Obese Men. Urol J. 2016;13(2):2635-2639. Published 2016 Apr 16.|
|⇧3||Lafuente R, González-Comadrán M, Solà I, et al. Coenzyme Q10 and male infertility: a meta-analysis. J Assist Reprod Genet. 2013;30(9):1147-1156. doi:10.1007/s10815-013-0047-5|
|⇧4||Vitamin C Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. (n.d.). Retrieved 24 Jan 2023.|
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|⇧11||Gerster H. Can adults adequately convert alpha-linolenic acid (18:3n-3) to eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n-3)?. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 1998;68(3):159-173.|
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|⇧14||Mistry, Hiten & Kurlak, Lesia. (2015). Selenium in Fertility and Reproduction. 10.1016/B978-0-12-800872-0.00024-X.|
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|⇧16||Melnikovova I, Fait T, Kolarova M, Fernandez EC, Milella L. Effect of Lepidium meyenii Walp. on Semen Parameters and Serum Hormone Levels in Healthy Adult Men: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Pilot Study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:324369. doi:10.1155/2015/324369|
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