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How important are vitamin and mineral supplements in men with infertility?

In a nutshell

This study investigated if vitamin and mineral supplementation (VMS) improves sperm quality in men with infertility. They found that VMS is associated with improved sperm quality.

Some background

Male infertility is a leading cause of fertility problems. Some studies suggest that 20-70% of couple infertility is caused by male infertility. One cause of male infertility is reduced sperm quality. Sperm quality is determined by 3 factors. These are sperm concentration, sperm count and sperm motility

Some research suggests diet plays an important role in sperm quality. Vitamin and mineral supplementation (VMS) has been associated with improvements in sperm quality. Vitamins such as C (vitC), E (vitE) and folic acid (FA) have been investigated in studies. Zinc and selenium are the main minerals that have been investigated. Other nutrients may also be beneficial. These include fatty acids like docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). Some studies have been conflicting. It is unclear if VMS is associated with improved sperm quality in men with infertility.

Methods & findings

This study analyzed 18 clinical reports of VMS in men with infertility. 11 nutrients were investigated in these studies. The authors analyzed the findings across the original studies. 

Selenium (100 and 200mcg/day) was associated with improved sperm count and motilityCoQ10 (200 and 300mg/day) was associated with an improvement in sperm count, concentration and motility. The effects of selenium were further improved by N-acetylcysteine treatment. Zinc (66mg/day) combined with folic acid (5 mg/day) also showed improved sperm concentration.

VitC and vitE were not associated with improvements in sperm quality. A combination of DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) improved sperm quality in one study. 

Methods & findings
The bottom line

The authors concluded that VMS is associated with improved sperm quality in men with impaired fertility.

The fine print

The number of studies in this analysis was limited. More controlled studies are needed to determine if VMS improves sperm quality. 

What’s next?

If you have any concerns regarding fertility please consult with your physician. 

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Published By: Reproductive BioMedicine Online
Date: Nov 11, 2020
Original Title: Influence of oral vitamin and mineral supplementation on male infertility: a meta-analysis and systematic review.

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