For men, three major factors affect fertility, and they're all related to sperm:
- Sperm count - the number of sperm
- Sperm motility - the ability for the sperm to move
- Sperm quality - health and vitality of the sperm
And this makes sense, because a lot of healthy sperm that can move quickly have a better chance at fertilizing an egg.
Several vitamins have been shown to increase sperm count, including vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin E and folic acid. (The minerals selenium and zinc can increase sperm count, as well.) Because a folic acid deficiency is often related to low sperm count or poor sperm quality in men, taking a folic acid supplement can increase the amount of healthy sperm.
Vitamin C and vitamin B12 are good for sperm count, motility and quality. Serious vitamin C deficiencies can sometimes result in damaged sperm, while vitamin B12 is known to promote healthy DNA.
A vitamin that's thought to be especially good for male fertility is vitamin E. One study conducted with men who had high sperm counts but low rates of fertilization found that, when they were given vitamin E supplements for a month, their fertilization rates increased by 10 percent [source: Hudson].
While we don't know for sure if all of these vitamins have a direct impact on helping you make a baby, we do know that overall good health can increase the chances of conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy. And besides, making sure you get the right vitamins and nutrients contributes to overall good health. Combined with a healthy lifestyle, vitamins and proper nutrition can go a long way toward making your body baby-ready.
To learn more about reproduction, fertility and even vitamins, take a look at the links below.
- Anderson, Kirsty et al. "Lifestyle factors in people seeking infertility treatment -- A review." Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. February 2010.
- Covington, Sharon N. and Linda Hammer Burns. "Infertility Counseling: A Comprehensive Handbook for Clinicians." Cambridge University Press. 2007.
- Domar, Alice D. and Alice Lesch Kelly. "Conquering Infertility: Dr. Alice Domar's Mind/Body Guide to Enhancing Fertility and Coping with Infertility." Penguin Books. 2004.
- Hudson, Tori. "Women's Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine: Alternative Therapies and Integrative Medicine for Total Health and Wellness." McGraw-Hill Professional. 2007.
- Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. "Healthy Sperm: Improving Your Fertility." Dec. 16, 2010. (March 9, 2011)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fertility/MC00023
- Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. "Male Infertility: Alternative Medicine." June 10, 2010. (March 7, 2011)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/male-infertility/DS01038/DSECTION=alternative-medicine
- Motluk, Alison. "Feed your sperm." New Scientist. March 23, 2002.
- WebMD. "Pregnancy and Prenatal Vitamins." (March 7, 2011)http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/prenatal-vitamins
- Smith, Rebecca. "Vitamin D can aid fertility." The Telegraph. Nov. 11, 2008. (March 6, 2011)http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/women_shealth/3434420/Vitamin-D-can-aid-fertility.html
- Thomas Healthcare, Inc. "Progestin (Oral Route, Parenteral Route, Vaginal Route)." Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Nov. 1, 2010. (March 7, 2011)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/drug-information/DR602125
- Warhus, Susan. "Fertility Demystified." McGraw-Hill. 2007.
- Williams, Maureen, ND. "Vitamin C Increases Fertility in Women with Luteal Phase Defect." Healthnotes, Inc. 2003. (March 10, 2011)http://bastyrcenter.org/content/view/620/&page=