Should Men Take Prenatal Vitamins?
PRENATAL VITAMINS CAN HELP IMPROVE FERTILITY OUTCOMES FOR FUTURE FATHERS, TOO.
Thanks to decades of deep research and public health information campaigns, we have a strong collective understanding of how much women’s health matters throughout conception and pregnancy.
Taking folate is just one example. It was in the early 90’s that the U.S. Public Health Service launched a national campaign to encourage women of childbearing age to supplement with folate. This nutritional guidance vastly reduced the incidence of neural tube defects like spina bifida in developing infants. That nutrition makes a difference for women’s fertility health is beyond dispute.
But women are only 50% of the conception equation, and men’s health should be an equal part of the prenatal conversation. Luckily, care providers and researchers have recently turned their attention to understanding health factors for men’s fertility. Most of this research focuses on improving outcomes for sperm health, since problems with sperm count (the number and concentration of sperm in semen), sperm morphology (the size and shape), and sperm motility (the ability to move well) are associated with male-factor infertility diagnoses.
And there’s good news: nutrition matters for men’s fertility, too, and nutrition is in your control. You can use new knowledge about the importance of nutrition to men’s fertility to your advantage when you’re ready to start a family.
DO MALE FERTILITY SUPPLEMENTS WORK?
Men make new sperm continually, and it takes roughly three months for sperm to fully mature. That makes the “preconception period”—the months before conception—a really important time for future fathers to pay attention to health.
The goal in the preconception period is to optimize fertility and protect the health of your future child. During the pre-conception window, if you smoke, you should stop. Focus on moving your body, ideally in a way that brings you joy and calm, since high-stress levels can adversely affect fertility. And, of course, eat a well-balanced diet that includes a rainbow of fruits and veggies.
There’s also solid evidence that supplementing a whole-foods diet with select nutrients can improve fertility outcomes for men. In a 2016 review of multiple studies on nutrition and semen quality in human males published in the International Journal of Reproductive BioMedicine, researchers noted that male semen includes traces of vitamin E, vitamin C, superoxide dismutase, glutathione and thioredoxin, which makes the relationship between antioxidants and male fertility an intriguing area of focus. The researchers concluded “that antioxidant supplements, especially a combination of antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and CoQ10 intake can effectively improve semen parameters in infertile men.”
And it turns out that folate levels matter for future dads, too. A 2014 study of prenatal folate in mice in the journal Reproductive System & Sexual Disorders showed that folate deficiency was associated with far lower rates of conception (just 52% of deficient mice successfully conceived, vs. 85% of mice with no nutritional deficiency), and more DNA damage observed in sperm resulting in a greater rate of birth defects (27% of babies fathered by folate-deficient mice showed defects, vs. 3% of babies fathered by mice with no deficiency). Though the researchers caution that a randomized human control study is needed, it’s clear that micronutrients like folate are important to men’s fertility health. Supplements for men often include folic acid, but if you’re choosing a prenatal supplement, opt for bioavailable methylated folate instead.
Men’s nutritional needs change continually throughout life, and your regular multivitamin might not be a match for your current goals. Science shows us that it makes sense to fuel for fertility when you’ve decided to become a dad. Luckily, you’ve got options!
WHAT ARE THE BEST MALE PRENATAL SUPPLEMENTS?
Please note that the Fertility Tribe recommends only those products that we believe can help on your TTC journey, but you should always do your own research and talk to your doctor before making health decisions. We sometimes receive advertising fees and/or sales commission on the products we share.
>> BELI MEN’S VITALITY PRENATAL MULTIVITAMIN
Beli Vitality for Men gets our vote for the standout male prenatal vitamin. This supplement combines carefully-sourced ingredients like L-carnitine, vitamins C and E, N-acetylcysteine, Zinc and CoQ10, which studies have associated with a four-fold increase in male fertility. Importantly, Beli contains methylated folate, the form of folate proven to be absorbed most efficiently by your body.
Beli’s Vitality men’s prenatal stands out from the crowd by including an ingredient called shilajit, an ancient medicine long prized for its impact on male energy and virility. Modern studies have confirmed that supplementing with shilajit can help boost men’s testosterone, increase sperm count and sperm motility, with the added effect of helping to enhance overall energy.
This supplement is designed to level-up from your previous multivitamin and will support your vitality throughout pre-conception, your partner’s pregnancy, and well into fatherhood.
Choose Beli if: You want a holistic multivitamin blend of carefully-sourced, quality ingredients targeted for men’s fertility support that includes a powerhouse adaptogen.
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