Critical Nutrients For Sperm Health
Did you know sperm take between 74 and 78 days to form and men are continually producing new sperm? A young and healthy man produces more than four million sperm per hour in each testicle. Because sperm cells are growing and dividing so rapidly, they are very sensitive to harm caused by nutritional deficiencies and environmental toxins. The modern world is more toxic than ever, and nutrient deficiencies have never been more prevalent. This is a terrible combination for male fertility and overall health.
There is a very interesting article in the New York Times called Are your Sperm in Trouble? It will give you detailed information about the effects of environmental chemicals on the health of sperm. Commonly used chemicals that most of us are exposed to on a daily basis can have devastating effects on the structure and function of sperm. Most men these days have a high percentage of abnormally shaped sperm that have lost the ability to swim properly. This of course has a huge negative impact on a man’s fertility. Sperm cells are exquisitely sensitive to the effects of environmental chemicals and dietary toxins. Environmental chemicals are definitely a problem and it is wise to limit your exposure to them as much as possible.
Sperm cells need particular nutrients in order to develop and function correctly. Selenium is particularly important. This mineral is one of the most important nutrients for male fertility. Selenium protects the DNA inside cells from damage; therefore it protects the DNA inside sperm from fragmentation. Research has shown that selenium improves the health of Leydig cells inside testes, which are the cells that manufacture testosterone. This has the beneficial effect of improving sperm quality, as well as overall male health. Selenium also helps to reduce the risk of miscarriage. An optimal level of selenium supplementation is 200 micrograms per day.
Zinc is an essential mineral found in animal foods, such as meat, fish, eggs, and shellfish. The fiber found in grains, nuts, seeds and legumes binds with zinc and reduces the ability of your gut to absorb it. Getting sufficient zinc is critical for male fertility. Studies have shown that low zinc status or deficiency is associated with low testosterone levels, inferior sperm quality, and an increased risk of male infertility. Taking a zinc supplement increases testosterone levels and sperm count in men who are low in zinc.
N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is a supplement that increases your body’s production of glutathione. It is the building block for glutathione production. Glutathione is a potent antioxidant and your body’s most powerful detoxifier. Research shows NAC helps to improve male fertility by boosting sperm health. A recent study showed that daily supplementation with n-acetyl-cysteine for 3 months in men with abnormal sperm significantly improved sperm quality and reduced signs of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress harms sperm in a way that compromises fertility.
The men in the study took 600mg of NAC each day for 3 months and had their before and after semen analysis compared. Significant benefits were seen in all seminal parameters tested: sperm concentration, total motility and progressive motility, with a marked reduction in abnormal morphology. There were also big reductions in the percentages of DNA fragmentation (breakages in DNA that can cause infertility or birth defects). Interestingly, all hormonal levels except prolactin changed, and the men experienced an increase in testosterone.
For more information about overcoming male or female infertility, see our book: Infertility: The Hidden Causes.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.