What diet should I follow to improve my semen quality?

By (embryologist), (embryologist), (embryologist), (embryologist) and (psychologist).
Last Update: 03/14/2022

Dietary habits can affect seminal quality to a great extent. Since what we eat has a significant influence on our overall health, it is evident that the healthier the food we eat, the higher the seminal quality. Therefore, the types and amounts of food you eat affect the production of sperm in your body.

Consuming junk food or not having healthy eating habits can cause male infertility. In general, we can state that fertility decreases as we deviate from our BMI range considered normal.

To improve the quality of spermatozoa, it is essential to eat a healthy and balanced diet that avoids the consumption of saturated fats above all. In some cases of seminal pathologies, including vitamin supplements to our diet may be advisable to improve seminal quality and, consequently, fertility.

How are spermatozoa formed?

Spermatogenesis (sperm formation) is a process that takes place in the testicles and lasts between 64 and 72 days. To improve sperm quality, a diet rich in antioxidants is recommended to reduce oxidative stress and free radicals.

These molecules rupture the sperm membrane and degrade its cellular structures so that the sperm is severely damaged and cannot be functional.

In other words, if there is a large number of free radicals, the sperm will be damaged and will not be able to reach the egg to fertilize it. In men with a high rate of oxidative stress, various techniques can be performed to only use sperm that have not suffered the damage that can be caused by these molecules.

Indispensable components in the human diet

A fundamental factor to improve sperm quality is to follow a varied diet rich in fruits and vegetables, while avoiding saturated fats. With these tips, there will be no vitamin deficiency that will prevent the correct formation of spermatozoa.

However, it is necessary to be consistent and follow this diet rich in vegetables and fruits for several months. Furthermore, this does not mean that the quality of the semen will necessarily improve since it will depend on the reason for the alteration.

Zinc

It is the trace element that most influences male fertility. The intake of Zinc by the male can stimulate the production of spermatozoa. The amount of Zinc in male genitalia and semen is higher than that found in other body tissues. There are studies that indicate that this element helps in the formation of spermatozoa. All this explains why zinc is one of the main compounds on the market to improve male fertility.

In addition, Zinc can also be taken in the diet since it is found in protein-rich foods such as oysters, red meat, pork and lamb, poultry, and some fish and shellfish. Other rich sources of zinc are beans, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, oat flakes, and yeast.

Vitamin A

This vitamin has a high antioxidant capacity, protects the entire male reproductive system, and is necessary for the production of sex hormones.

Vitamin A comes from animal sources such as eggs, meat, milk, cheese, cream, liver, kidney, and cod, and halibut liver oil. However, all of these sources, with the exception of vitamin A-fortified skim milk, are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Therefore, these foods should not be abused either.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C contributes to improving sperm motility. Another effect of vitamin C is that it helps to reduce chromosomal failures in spermatozoa, as it is an antioxidant that protects cells from the effects of free radicals.

We can get extra vitamin C by consuming fruits and vegetables, such as citrus fruits, red and green peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, garlic, almonds, and green leafy vegetables.

Vitamin E

Thanks to its great antioxidant capacity, it is possible to improve sperm quality with vitamin E.

Vitamin E has been mainly related to the integrity of sperm DNA. If there is a vitamin E deficiency, sperm DNA fragmentation will be greater. However, there are also studies that establish an association between the amount of vitamin E and sperm motility.

Rich sources of vitamin E include vegetable oils, margarine, nuts, peanuts, seeds, and leafy vegetables such as spinach. Vitamin E is also found in cereals.

We advise you to visit the following article for much more information about this vitamin: Do vitamin E supplements have any effect on fertility?

B12

In relation to vitamin B12, it helps to improve sperm motility. If the sperm are able to move in a straight and progressive manner, the encounter with the egg will be facilitated so that fertilization and, therefore, pregnancy can occur. On the other hand, if the sperm do not move progressively or are directly immobile, natural pregnancy will be more complicated.

Another benefit of vitamin B12 is that it helps prevent sperm DNA fragmentation. If there is a high percentage of sperm with fragmented DNA, there is a higher risk of fertilization failure and miscarriage.

There are different amounts of this vitamin in foods such as eggs, poultry, seafood, meat, milk, derivatives, and maca (an herbaceous plant native to Peru).

Folic Acid

We have always heard about the benefits of taking folic acid in women, but it is true that not much is known about the effects on men.

There are studies that vitamin B9 or folic acid together with zinc helps to improve male fertility problems associated with oligospermia, that is, with a low concentration of spermatozoa. However, the results are questionable.

Foods containing folic acid include green leafy vegetables, fruits, dried peas, peas, and nuts.

Amino acids

Amino acids are the molecules that form proteins and also play an important role in sperm maturation.

  • L-Arginine: responsible for the quantity of spermatozoa.
  • L-Carnitine: responsible for sperm functionality.
  • Taurine: directly influences sperm motility.

These three amino acids can be consumed, but it should be noted that an excess of any of them can have adverse effects on the body. This is the same in the case of taking more vitamins, nutrients, etc. For this reason, it is essential to consult with your doctor about the recommended daily amounts.

Spermatozoa alterations

If, after reading a semen analysis, sperm abnormalities are detected in any of the semen parameters (concentration, motility, or morphology), it may be recommended to include a vitamin supplement to improve semen quality.

After several months of taking these pills, the semen analysis will be repeated to check if the semen quality has improved. It should be noted that an improvement will really only be observed in those men who have a vitamin deficiency. If the problem is not due to a low concentration of certain vitamins, no improvement will be noted in the spermatozoa and, therefore, neither in the result of the semen analysis.

In reality, men who show an improvement in semen quality by taking supplements are few, but it is true that taking vitamins for three months does not harm health. This is why it is usually advisable to at least try.

The semen analysis cannot be repeated immediately after supplementation, because the approximate sperm formation time is three months. It is after this period that it will be observed whether the new spermatozoa that have been synthesized with all the necessary vitamin components present any alteration or are normal.

FAQs from users

By Marta Barranquero Gómez B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Leading a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet helps improve semen quality.

Foods high in vitamin C and antioxidants, such as oranges, blueberries and strawberries, help improve sperm motility. Foods rich in vitamin B12 (meats, dairy products and derivatives), rich in Zinc (cashews, oysters, cocoa, etc.) or with a high amount of vitamin E (olive oil, walnuts, almonds...) are also beneficial to improve semen quality.

What are the advantages of taking care of your diet for male fertility?

By Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

The fact that men take care of their diet towards a Mediterranean diet has advantages for their general health, but also to improve their reproductive potential. Among the most important advantages, we can mention the improvement in seminal quality.

In addition, a healthy diet will allow the male to control his weight, since overweight or obesity can also affect sperm quality.

However, it will be important to combine these good habits with some moderate sport, as well as avoiding toxic habits such as smoking or alcohol.

Can eating more berries improve sperm quality?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Yes, berries (including blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries) contain antioxidant pigments, in addition to absorbing free radicals of oxygen. In other words, including berries in your diet is a good option to improve or protect sperm quality.

Some studies have shown that pigments found in the skin and seeds of berries have multiple medicinal properties, including flavonoids, anthocyanins, tannins, and other phytochemicals.

In particular, blueberries, blackberries, lingonberries, and strawberries contain high amounts of vitamin C and other nutrients. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects cells from cell damage.

If you are interested in learning more about the foods recommended to improve semen quality, we recommend you visit the following article: What foods can improve male fertility?

On the other hand, if what you want to know is the process of sperm formation, don't forget to click here: How are spermatozoa formed - Phases of spermatogenesis.

We make a great effort to provide you with the highest quality information.

🙏 Please share this article if you liked it. 💜💜 You help us continue!

References

Kasturi, S.S. Tannir, J. Brannigan, R. The Metabolic Syndrome and Male Infertility. In: J Andrology. 2008;29(3):251-60 (see)

Kort, H.I. Massey, J.B. Elsner, C.W. et al Impact of Body Mass Index values on sperm quantity and quality. J Andrology, 2005;7(3) (see)

Magnusdottir, E.V. Thorsteinsson, T. Thorsteindottir, S. et al. Persistent organochlorines, sedentary occupation, obesity and human male subfertility. Human Reprod. 2005;20(1):208-15 (see)

NHMRC. Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Overweight and Obesity in Adults; 2003. [cited 2009, May 26].

Osuna, J.A. Gomex-Perez, R. Arata-Bellabarba, G. Villaroel, V. Relationship between BMI, total testosterone, sex-hormone binding globulin, leptin, insulin and insulin resistance in obese men. Arch Androl, 2005;52(5):355-61.

Schisterman EF, et al. Effect of folic acid and zinc supplementation in men on semen quality and live birth among couples undergoing infertility treatment: A randomized clinical trial. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2019 (see)

FAQs from users: 'What are the 5 recommended foods to improve semen?', 'What are the advantages of taking care of your diet for male fertility?' and 'Can eating more berries improve sperm quality?'.

Read more

Authors and contributors

 Cristina Mestre Ferrer
Cristina Mestre Ferrer
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biological Sciences, Genetics & Human Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV). Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the UV and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). Embryologist at IVI Barcelona. More information about Cristina Mestre Ferrer
 Marta Barranquero Gómez
Marta Barranquero Gómez
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Embryologist
Graduated in Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences by the University of Valencia (UV) and specialized in Assisted Reproduction by the University of Alcalá de Henares (UAH) in collaboration with Ginefiv and in Clinical Genetics by the University of Alcalá de Henares (UAH). More information about Marta Barranquero Gómez
License: 3316-CV
 Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Embryologist
Graduate in Health Biology from the University of Alcalá and specialized in Clinical Genetics from the same university. Master in Assisted Reproduction by the University of Valencia in collaboration with IVI clinics. More information about Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
License: 3435-CV
 Zaira Salvador
Zaira Salvador
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Technical University of Valencia (UPV). Biotechnology Degree from the National University of Ireland en Galway (NUIG) and embryologist specializing in Assisted Reproduction, with a Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV) and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI) More information about Zaira Salvador
License: 3185-CV
Adapted into english by:
 Cristina  Algarra Goosman
Cristina Algarra Goosman
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Psychologist
Graduated in Psychology by the University of Valencia (UV) and specialized in Clinical Psychology by the European University Center and specific training in Infertility: Legal, Medical and Psychosocial Aspects by University of Valencia (UV) and ADEIT.
More information about Cristina Algarra Goosman
Member number: CV16874

Find the latest news on assisted reproduction in our channels.