Improve Your Reproductive Health – Your Micronutrient Guide

There is a vast amount of scientific evidence that links micronutrients with improvements in sperm quality and reproductive health. In this article, you can find the sources of these key nutrients and the recommended daily dosages.

What are micronutrients?

Simply speaking, they are dietary compounds that are vital for the optimal functioning of the body.

They are considered essential because our body can’t produce them in sufficient amounts on its own and they should be obtained through nutrition or supplementation.

Which are the basic micronutrients?

Vitamins are organic substances and are divided into water-soluble or fat-soluble vitamins. Each of the 13 known vitamins has specific functions in the body and when their intake is not enough, vitamin deficiency disorders can occur.

Minerals are inorganic nutrients that also play a vital role in human health and are strongly related to infertility[1]. A subgroup of minerals, trace elements (e.g. copper, selenium, zinc), are present in small quantities in the body and are essential for normal metabolic functions. They are used as structural components in many enzymes.

Antioxidants are a specific category of vitamins and minerals which have the ability to deactivate naturally occurring damaging compounds in the body called free radicals and promote good health. Antioxidants include substances such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, astaxanthin and lycopene.

Did you know:

Berries like blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, and strawberries have impressive nutrition profiles. They are particularly high in fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants and are low in calories. Consistently eating the right amount of these berries has been associated with many health benefits. You can start your day with a smoothie rich in berries and take advantage of the benefits [4] .

This section is an overview of the major micronutrients and their influence on male fertility.

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in maintaining optimal immune system, vision, reproduction, and cell growth.

It has antioxidant properties and supports cell growth. When vitamin A was combined with other antioxidants was found to improve sperm count (number of sperm cells in a sample) and motility (their ability to swim)[1].

Primary natural sources:  Liver, egg yolk, dairy products, oranges, mangoes, peppers, spinach, carrots.

Vitamin B9 or folate is a water-soluble vitamin which our body needs to make DNA and other genetic material.

Supplement therapy with folic acid, zinc, and antioxidants has been shown to increase sperm count and motility, and to decrease the fragmentation of sperm DNA in men [2][9][17].

Primary natural sources: Dark leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, beef liver, nuts, beans.

 Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that contributes to many reactions in the body and also has very strong antioxidant properties. Vitamin C is highly concentrated within seminal plasma (the liquid which makes up the semen) and combination with other antioxidants has been associated with improvements in semen quality [5][6].

Primary natural sources: Citrus fruits, tomato, green leafy vegetables. 

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin with important roles in our body. The right amount of vitamin D is necessary to maintain a healthy immune system and optimal hormonal and nervous system.

Another important role is its involvement in the absorption of calcium and the maintenance of healthy bones and skin. It has also been suggested that vitamin D has a beneficial role in male reproduction in the testis [15][16].

Primary food sources: Fatty fish, cheese, egg yolks, beef liver.

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that belongs to the tocopherol family. It’s a potent antioxidant compound that protects the cell membranes.

Moreover, when combined with vitamin C, it has shown even stronger antioxidant properties. Supplementation of vitamin E with trace minerals have shown to increase sperm motility [5][7].

Primary natural sources: Eggs, dairy products, vegetable oils, avocados, nuts, green leafy vegetables.

Selenium protects the body against oxidative stress and has the ability to regulate thyroid hormones. Selenium in combination with antioxidants seems to improve sperm count, motility, and morphology (the shape of your sperm) [1][7].

Primary natural sources: Seafood, meat, dairy products, nuts, mushrooms, whole grains.

Zinc is a trace mineral with a key role in testicular development, testosterone production, and hormonal function.

Zinc therapy with only zinc or in combination with other nutrients seems to increase sperm motility and concentration [8][9].

Primary natural sources: Meat, poultry, shellfish, legumes, mushrooms, whole grains.

Omega-3 fatty acids: are a category of polyunsaturated fatty acids that are primarily found in fish oils. They are a key component to a healthy diet since they are able to inhibit oxidative reactions in the body.

The intake of omega-3 fatty acids enhanced sperm count, motility, and morphology in two studies of oligospermic (low sperm count) men [3][10].

Primary natural sources: Fatty fish, shellfish, seeds, legumes, whole grains.

Carnitines: derive from the synthesis of the amino acids lysine and methionine and they are responsible for transporting long-chain fatty acids into the cells.

Carnitines assist sperm metabolism as an energy source for spermatozoa and affect motility and sperm maturation. They also act as antioxidants protecting spermatozoa against oxidation. The two main forms are L-carnitine (LC) and L-acetyl-carnitine (LAC).

Supplementation with LC and LAC has shown improvement in motility and morphology of sub-fertile men [11][12].

Primary natural sources: Meat, fish, shellfish.

Coenzyme Q10 (Ubiquinone): is a fat-soluble micronutrient that plays a key role in transporting electrons in the cells. It has the ability to stabilize and protect the cell membranes from oxidative stress, acting as an antioxidant within the male reproductive system.

CoQ10 is an important ingredient in promoting energy within the midpiece of the sperm and can be directly correlated with sperm count and motility [13][14].

Primary natural sources: Oysters, beef liver, broccoli, avocado.

Nutritional balance and fertility status

The human body is a complex system that needs numerous nutrients to sustain life and promote your well-being. A well-balanced diet, coming primarily from a variety of different food products, is vital to ensure we maintain the normal functioning of our body.

If the selection of the right food combinations seems like a complicated task, you can read our article about “The top 20 fertility foods” and start changing your eating habits today.

 

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