People are quick to assume that prenatal vitamins are only for pregnant women. And while it’s true that prenatal pregnancies are crucial for women during their pregnancy, there’s more to it than that. A prenatal vitamin is ideal for supporting a woman’s fertility during the pre-conception period, which is well before pregnancy begins, and also during the postpartum period – the benefits aren’t limited to that wild forty weeks. And perhaps surprisingly, men benefit from prenatal vitamins just as much as women do, and one company is determined to spread the word.
The effects of sperm health
“With a little research, two things became really clear to me,” she says Bel Founder Joni Hanson Davis. “First, sperm health plays a huge role in everything from conception to the health of future generations. And second, men have fertility problems just like women do.”
She is right. A man’s health during the preconception window, or approximately three to six months before conception, directly affects the future pregnancy of his partner and your baby’s long-term health. For this reason, experts recommend using this period to prioritize a healthy lifestyle. In addition to regular exercise, a nutritious diet, and minimizing bad habits like drinking too much or using drugs, men also benefit from a daily prenatal vitamin. Because the right conditions can optimize fertility. And for men, it depends on healthy sperm, which are characterized by a number of parameters:
- sperm count. A key aspect of semen quality is the concentration of sperm cells in a given amount of semen. Normal semen contains 40 to 300 million sperm per milliliter. A low sperm count, known as oligospermia, is between 10 and 20 million sperm per milliliter. A low sperm count can be due to a number of issues, including previous medical problems, age, or environmental factors. Lifestyle also plays a role. Men who smoke or use recreational drugs should be aware that both habits affect their fertility.
- Sperm morphology. Normal sperm have egg-shaped heads and long tails that serve to help the sperm “swim” to the egg. The more normally shaped sperm a man has, the easier it is for them to reach his partner’s egg.
- motility of sperm. Efficient movement is an essential characteristic of healthy sperm. Sperm motility is measured as the percentage of motile sperm in a semen sample, and healthy sperm motility is defined as sperm with forward movements of at least 25 microns per second. There are different types of sperm motility problems including slow or sluggish progressive motility, non-progressive motility defined as anything under 5 microns per second, and no motility.
- Testosterone levels and hormone balance: The balance of hormones in a man’s body determines the success of his reproductive system. When the body does not produce enough testosterone or gonadotropins, which include follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), male infertility is a common result.
Healthy sperm start with the right nutrients
The most common cause of low quality sperm – ie problems with all or some of the above – is a nutrient deficiency. And it’s more common than many people realize. A Study 2012 found that only one in four men had optimal sperm health.
Every day counts in the life of sperm. And ensuring healthy development means a steady stream of specific nutrients like vitamins D, E, C, folic acid and CoQ10. In an ideal world, a healthy diet would provide all the nutrients a man needs. But in the real world, nutritional gaps in our diets are pretty common, and a prenatal vitamin may be the wisest solution. Enter Hanson Davis’ specialized prenatal nutrition formulated to support male fertility with nutrients proven to promote better sperm across all parameters.
Today, Beli is not alone in the male prenatal care market. But just as prenatal care isn’t made equal for women, it’s not marketed to men either. When shopping, favor formulas made with non-GMO ingredients in FDA-registered cGMP facilities to ensure safety and consistency. And look for specific ingredients:
- coenzyme Q10, an antioxidant that supports motility of sperm and can help to improve fertilization rates
- Methylated Folatea form of vitamin B9 related higher sperm count and health.
- Vitamins C, E, B6 and B12Antioxidants that support sperm number and agility
- Vitamin Da hormone that promotes sperm quality
- L-carnitinea compound associated with elevated fertilization rates
- seleniuman antioxidant that supports testosterone production
- N-acetyl-L-cysteinean antioxidant that promotes sperm count
- zinca nutrient that supports motility of sperm
- L-argininean amino acid that is key to a healthy diet sperm production
- L-Taurinean antioxidant associated with male factor infertility at a low level
The final result
“For both partners, taking a prenatal vitamin every day is kind of a low-hanging fruit,” says Hanson Davis. “Setting an alarm and getting some vitamins every day is pretty easy, and the payoff can be huge.”
The bottom line is pretty simple. HHealthy pregnancies start with healthy sperm, and healthy sperm start with proper nutrition. Just like women, men benefit from the specialized nutrition of a good prenatal vitamin. When the plan is having a baby, an important part of the process is taking steps to clean up your lifestyle and include a daily prenatal vitamin.
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