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When you consider that about 300 million sperm will be trying to make their way to the cervix, but only one million will make it that far, and out of that one million only 200 will make it to the fallopian tubes, only to bounce off the egg while trying to get in (through a wall thatís 300% thicker than the head of the sperm), itís a wonder that any of them ever make it.
Yet they do, of course, but there are certain nutrients they need - for their health and motility.
Damaged sperm may not be able to fertilise the egg, or may lead to a pregnancy that isn't able to go to term. A lot of sperm damage is caused by free radicals, so a diet high in antioxidants mayhelp protect sperm cells from this damage. Taking a broad spectrum of antioxidants together has been shown to be more effective than taking single antioxidants.
To give sperm the best chance possible, you will need the following nutrients in your diet and supplement programme (not in any particular order of importance):
It's crucial to drink enough water, as dehydration will lead to low semen volume. Aim to drink a minimum of one litre of water per day, and more when you're exercising.
is an essential component of genetic material and a deficiency in this important mineral can cause chromosome changes in either you or your partner. Deficiency can lead to reduced fertility and an increased risk of miscarriage. Zinc is also required for the reproductive hormones oestrogen and progesterone. Zinc is found in high concentrations in the sperm where it is needed to make the outer layer and tail of the sperm and is therefore essential for sperm health and, subsequently, your baby. Zinc needs to be continually replaced, as a significant amount is lost with each ejaculation. Good sourcesof zinc include meat, fish, pumpkin seeds, rye, oysters, almonds, brazil nuts,ginger, eggs and leafy greens.
has antioxidant qualities which help to protect against the effects of free radicals within the body that can cause chromosomal damage. It is also needed to maximise sperm formation and is required for testosterone production. Low levels of selenium are linked to infertility. Brazil nuts, sesame seeds, garlic, whole grains and brown rice are good sources of selenium.
Essential Fatty Acids
The word 'Essential' means that they are essential to life, cannot be made in the body,and must be obtained from the diet. They include omega 3 and omega 6 - both of which have important roles to play in reproductive health.
Essential Fatty Acids are also crucial for healthy hormone functioning. They break down in the body to produce prostaglandins for healthy semen. They also help to promote good levels of healthy, mobile sperm.
The main sources of omega 3 are oily fish and flaxseed, and omega 6 is found in nuts and seeds. It is crucial to find these oils as fresh as possible. The most important, omega 3 from fish oil,should be free from toxins - avoid cheap versions which may not have been properly tested for toxicity.
has powerful anti oxidant qualities. Dr Marilyn Glenville, a well respected expert in this field, states that vitamin E supplements have been shown to help fertilization and in one study by researchers at the University of Sheffield, it was found that taking high doses - 600mg of vitamin E every day for three months - improved the quality of sperm in 20% of men with poor sperm performance. wheat germ, nuts and seeds, avocado, green leafy vegetables and free range eggs.
is an antioxidant. This helpsprotect sperm and the DNA within it from damage. Vitamin C can help prevent sperm clumping together (agglutination).
Good sources include fruits and vegetables,especially peppers, kiwi, citrus fruits, berries and tomatoes.
The amino acids:
L-Arginine,L-Carnitine and Taurine are required for the normal production and functioning of sperm, aiding sperm quantity, quality and motility. Deficiencies inL-arginine are linked to immature sperm development. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, so eating sufficient good quality protein is vital.
(There have been a number of recent blogs on the subject of folic acid and how it can benefit both men and women attempting pregnancy. Go to our blog and type in "Folic Acid" (without quotes) in the search facility to list all 6 of them)
Early indications suggest that Folate (Folic Acid) may be as important for healthy sperm, as it is for women during pregnancy.
It is found in dark green leafy vegetables,avocados, carrots, apricots and egg yolks.
Another powerful and protective antioxidant which is essential for sperm motility and energy. CoQ10 is also vital for good cardiovascular function and blood circulation. Found in organ meat,sliver, kidney and heart.
has been used for many years to improve male fertility, to increase seminal fluid, sperm count and mobility,for impotence and erectile dysfunction.
What makes Maca so effective, especially in the areas of fertility imbalance is that rather than introducing hormones from outside (whether chemical or natural) Maca encourages the glands in the body to produce the hormones it needs itself according to the individuals unique requirements.