Nutritional status can impact fertility and reproduction in both men and women. Unhealthy food choices, excessive alcohol intake, cigarette smoking, and inappropriate drug use can all have adverse affects on fertility.
Smoking alone is linked to infertility and increased risk of miscarriage. One study, funded by cigarette company Philip Morris, showed that smokers likely to bind tightly to an egg, a necessary step for fertilization. The researchers suggested that men who are heavy tobacco users may experience a significant drop in fertility potential and may be damaging their sperm DNA.
Another potential addiction, excessive alcohol intake, may also decrease fertility in men. Heavy drinking has been linked to lower testosterone levels, sperm abnormalities, and erectile dysfunction.
Drugs such as anabolic steroids have been linked to infertility in men. Researchers from Yale University School of Medicine and the University of Connecticut reported results from their review of male infertility in patients with a history of anabolic steroid abuse. They found that not all patients who have a history of anabolic steroid abuse are infertile and that fertility returns for many after steroid use stops.
Maintaining a healthy weight may also contribute to fertility. Men with a high body mass index may have lower testosterone levels according to findings from Reproductive Biology Associates in Atlanta. These researchers discovered that overweight men's 'average testosterone levels were 24% lower than normal weight men. Obese men's average testosterone levels were 26% lower.
Nutrients linked to fertility and reproduction include vitamin A, zinc, and selenium. Vitamin A is important for growth and reproduction; zinc is linked to sexual maturation and reproduction; both zinc and selenium play a role in sperm formation and structure. A healthy diet will promote adequate intake of these essential nutrients and supplementation can help fill nutrient gaps when needed.
Choose a multivitamin/mineral and additional supplements as needed based on gender and individual needs. Talk to a healthcare provider before starting a supplement regimen for therapeutic purposes. To optimize fertility, experts recommend that men stay healthy and avoid unhealthy lifestyle choices such as smoking and heavy alcohol use.
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