There are many nutrients that promote the formation of healthy sperm to enhance fertility for couples who are planning for a baby. Different nutrients have different effects on sperm production and the important ones include: increasing sperm count, increasing sperm quality and improving motility which means how active and in-motion the sperm are. This is an important factor in achieving conception.
Carnitine is an amino acid from protein that increases sperm motility. The richest food sources include lamb and beef with dairy at a distant third. Clinical trials that have achieved this benefit were 3000mg/day. Zinc can increase the sperm count, motility and quality. Oysters are a great source of zinc and meat runs a distant second.Folate can increase sperm count. Rich food sources include whole grains such as rye and wheat, chickpeas (hummus), spinach and brewer’s yeast*.
Vitamin B12 can increase sperm count. Meat, brewer’s yeast*, tempeh (Indonesian soy food), sardines and nori (sushi) are good sources of B12. Co-enzyme Q10 may assist in male fertility through improving sperm count and motility. CoQ10 is concentrated in the sperm where it is involved in energy production. Sardines, mackerel and soybean oil are very rich in CoQ10.
Babies need some key nutrients for their healthy development especially for the healthy growth and development of the brain and nervous system.
Vitamin B6 – needed for healthy brain development. Rich in beef, bananas, avocado, chicken, hazelnuts, salmon and walnuts. Vitamin B12 is needed for the formation of nerves, in particular the outer myelin sheath of the nerve which is required for the conduction of nerve impulses. Food sources include: meat, brewers yeast*, tempeh (Indonesian soy food), sardines and nori (sushi) are good sources of B12.
Folate is well known for preventing neural tube defects and foods rich in this very important nutrient include: whole grains such as rye and
wheat, chickpeas (hummus), spinach and brewer’s yeast*.
Choline – is needed for the myelin sheath around the nerves. The riches sources are lecithin and beef. Zinc is crucial for many aspects of development of the baby including normal weight and growth. Oysters are a great source of zinc and meat runs a distant second. Ideally your pregnancy multi will have some zinc in it. Iodine is needed for healthy brain development and can lower the risk of behavioural problems in children. Good food sources include
seaweeds such as nori (sushi) and wakame (in miso soup). There are some very tasty seaweed shakers in health food shops which can be sprinkled over salads and sandwiches. Thyroid hormone is dependant on iodine for its synthesis in the body and is critical for the development of the nervous system during pregnancy.
Fish oil – Fish has two substances that are of interest to us in regards to healthy babies. DHA (docohexanoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentanoic acid). In terms of a healthy nervous system, both, are important. The richest source of DHA in the body is in the nerve endings where it enables the nerves to communicate with other nerves.
EPA has an anti-inflammatory effect and has been shown to be useful in behavioural problems where inflammation plays a significant role. A pregnant woman who is not allergic to fish would ideally consider fish oil as a supplement both during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Please note vegetable sources of oils are not as rich in these substances as fish oil. Food sources include kahawai, salmon (fresh is preferable over farmed), fresh tuna, mackerel and herring.
Vitamin D has a role in promoting a healthy birth weight, healthy bones, teeth and nervous system. It is synthesised in the body as a result of
exposing the skin to sunlight. Iron may become deficient during pregnancy and should be supplemented only when needed. Your lead maternity caregiver can order a blood test if needed. Rich in brewer’s yeast*, kelp*, pumpkin seeds, molasses, sunflower seeds, almonds, molasses and beef.
* Popcorn sprinkled with brewers yeast and a little kelp provides a very tasty snack as well as covering many of the nutrients listed above.