By Timothy Prentiss Staff Writer Kirkman Group, Inc
Women receive all kinds of prenatal healthcare services and advice. Far less attention is usually given to the health and nutrition of fathers-to-be, however, research is making it clear that the prospective father’s health is also important. The environmental exposures and nutritional choices of a father-to-be can have profound effects on reproductive outcomes, from failure to conceive to birth defects.1
The Effects of Environmental Exposures
Smoking and excessive drinking are likely the most common (and most commonly recognized) reproductive hazards and both can lead to reduced sperm counts.2 But there are other common exposures, including many encountered in workplaces, that can have detrimental effects on fertility.1
Millions of chemicals are commonly in commercial use. According to the CDC, more than 1,000 of these have reproductive effects on animals, but few have been studied in humans. Several of those that have been studied have been shown to lower sperm count, deform sperm shape (which can lead to an inability of the sperm to “swim” effectively) and/or alter sexual hormones.
Lead, for instance has been linked to all three of these negative outcomes. Exposure to other heavy metals as well as pesticides have also been linked to negative effects on sperm production. Potentially damaging chemicals used in workplaces include bromides (used in dyes, disinfectants and insecticides), styrene (used in plastic production) and tetrachloroethylene (used in dry cleaning).1
Some chemicals can actually alter the DNA contained in sperm cells, potentially leading to miscarriage or health problems for the offspring. Certain cancer medications1 have been found to have such an effect, as has smoking,3 however there isn’t yet much data on whether or not any chemicals used in workplaces can alter DNA.1
The Critical Role of Nutrition
High body mass has been linked to low sperm counts, both oligozoospermia, which simply means a lower-than-average count, and azoospermia, which indicates a sperm count so low that sperm is actually undetectable.
For both underweight and overweight men, there is a slightly increased chance of azoospermia or oligozoospermia. Those deemed “morbidly obese,” however, have twice the odds of low sperm counts.4
Research on the impact of diet on male fertility is still at an early stage, but it has already become clear that poor diets have a negative effect. A 2012 study found that men who ate diets containing large quantities of fruits and vegetable had sperm with greater motility than those who ate a standard western diet including greater amounts of fat and refined grains.5
Though this study only indicated that having a generally nutritious diet was beneficial, other studies have narrowed their focus to look at specific nutrients. One found that vitamin E and selenium supplementation both increased motility and reduced the concentration of malformed sperm.6 Another found significant count and motility improvements following regular, high-dose intake of vitamin C7. High doses of vitamin B-12 were found to increase sperm counts for both humans8 and rats.9
Kirkman’s new product P2i Baby™ Preconception Vitamins & Minerals for Men – Hypoallergenic — part of Kirkman’s P2i Baby™ line—is packed with these nutrients that have been shown to improve male fertility. It includes 142% of the recommended daily allowance of selenium and 100% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin E, which have both been shown to improve motility and sperm count. High levels of vitamin C and vitamin B-12 are also included (416% and 1,666% of recommended daily allowance, respectively).
These supplements are Ultra Pure™, meaning they are tested for and verified free of more than 950 environmental contaminants. Not only do they provide nutrients that have been demonstrated to improve fertility for men, they are also free of chemicals that have been shown to negatively affect fertility.
1. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, “The effects of workplace hazards on male reproductive health.” DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 96-132. Accessed 4/12/16 from: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/96-132/
2. Mayo Clinic, “Diseases and conditions: low sperm count.” Accessed 4/12/16 from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/low-sperm-count/basics/causes/con-20033441
3. DeNoon, Daniel, “Study: smoking degrades sperm protein needed for fertility, embryo survival.” Accessed 4/12/16 from: http://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/news/20100910/smokers-sperm-less-fertile
4. Sermondade, N. BMI in relation to sperm count: an updated systematic review and collaborative meta-analysis. Human Reproduction Update, Jun;19 (3): 221-31. doi: 10.1093/humupd/dms050.
6. Moslemi MK, Tavanbakhsh S. Selenium–vitamin E supplementation in infertile men: effects on semen parameters and pregnancy rate. International Journal of General Medicine. 2011;4:99-104. doi:10.2147/IJGM.S16275.
7. Akmal M, Qadri JQ, Al-Waili NS, Thangal S, Haq A, Saloom KY. Improvement in human semen quality after oral supplementation of vitamin C. J Med Food. 2006 Fall;9(3):440-2. Accessed 4/13/16 from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17004914
8. Moriyama H, Nakamura K, Sanda N, Fujiwara E, Seko S, Yamazaki A, Mizutani M, Sagami K, Kitano T, [Studies on the usefulness of a long-term, high-dose treatment of methylcobalamin in patients with oligozoospermia]. Hinyokika Kiyo. 1987 Jan;33(1):151-6. Accessed 4/12/16 from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3107356
9. Watanabe T, Ohkawa K, Kasai S, Ebara S, Nakano Y, Watanabe Y. The effects of dietary vitamin B12 deficiency on sperm maturation in developing and growing male rats. Congenit Anom (Kyoto). 2003 Mar;43(1):57-64. Accessed 4/13/16 from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12692404